Fluid racial presentation: Perceptions of contextual “passing” among biracial people


Journal Article

© 2018 Elsevier Inc. Existing monoracial identity frameworks fail to capture the experiences of biracial people, for whom racial identification may depend on the social context. Though biracial people can vary their racial identity, the social consequences of context-dependent racial self-presentation remain underexplored. Five studies examined how contextual racial presentation among biracial people is perceived by high status groups. White participants read vignettes describing a biracial person contextually presenting in an academic situation and evaluated the target's character and behavior. Asian/White or Black/White biracial students who contextually presented as monoracial (compared to biracial presentation) were evaluated more negatively because they were perceived as less trustworthy (Studies 1–5). The effect of White contextual presentation was mediated by endorsement of stereotypes that biracial people are confused about their racial identity (Studies 4–5). Responses were robust to the status of the monoracial identity (Studies 1–2) and intention to benefit (Study 5), but varied by the availability of choice (e.g., conditions of forced choice; Study 3). The results suggest contextually choosing an identity carries social repercussions because it can activate explicit negative stereotypes about biracial individuals.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Albuja, AF; Sanchez, DT; Gaither, SE

Published Date

  • July 1, 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 77 /

Start / End Page

  • 132 - 142

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0465

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-1031

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jesp.2018.04.010

Citation Source

  • Scopus