Children’s cross-cultural categorizations of racially ambiguous faces in Taiwan and the U.S.

Journal Article

Objectives: Racially ambiguous face categorization research is growing in prominence, and yet the majority of this work has focused on White and Western samples and has primarily used biracial Black/White stimuli. Past findings suggest that biracial Black/White faces are more often seen as Black than White, but without testing these perceptions with other groups, generalizability cannot be guaranteed.


We tested 3-7-year old Asian children living in Taiwan—an Eastern cultural context (N = 74)—and Asian children living in the U.S.—a Western cultural context (N = 65) to explore the role that cultural group membership may play in biracial perceptions. Children categorized 12 racially ambiguous biracial Black/White faces and 12 biracial Asian/White faces in a dichotomous forced-choice task and completed a racial constancy measurement.


Regarding biracial Black/White faces, Taiwanese and Asian American children both categorized the faces as White significantly more often compared to chance levels, regardless of racial constancy beliefs. For biracial Asian/White faces, Taiwanese children with racial constancy beliefs categorized the faces significantly more often as White, whereas Taiwanese children without racial constancy beliefs categorized the faces significantly more often as Asian. However, Asian American children did not show a bias in categorizing biracial Asian/White faces.


Results suggest that hyperdescent over hypodescent for more commonly studied biracial Black/White faces generalizes in both cultural contexts. However, biracial Asian/White stimuli may be perceived in more fixed-like patterns in predominately Asian contexts, since only Taiwanese children showed increased outgroup categorizations once racial constancy beliefs were endorsed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gaither, S; Chen, C-M; Neal, S; Chien, SH-L

Published Date

  • October 11, 2021

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.31234/