Colorblindness as an ideology (not the visual deficiency) centers on the notion that acknowledgement of race, and associated groupings, should be avoided. In theory, it aims to prevent racial discrimination by claiming to wholly ignore race. However, in practice, it worsens the accuracy of social judgments and increases both racial bias and stereotyping.

Biracial individuals, though, share the common experience of strangers asking them “What are you?” with regards to their race. Rather than avoiding discussing race, when people encounter a biracial individual, they’re perhaps more inclined to broach the subject. This paper explores the extent to which people change their discussion of race upon repetitive encounters with biracial faces.

Key Findings

  • Across six studies, the authors found that exposure to individuals known to be biracial reduced endorsement of the ideology of colorblindness about White individuals. (The studies recruited for and focused only on White participants.)
  • Reductions in colorblind attitudes were linked to both real-life exposure and laboratory exposures to biracial faces. Notably, these findings only occurred when subjects knew the face they were seeing was actually biracial.
  • In the experiment, White individuals expected biracial people to be less “colorblind” than monoracial White and monoracial Black people. Furthermore, White participants showed a greater likelihood to tune their attitudes to align with the (presumed) attitudes of biracial individuals.