Brendesha Tynes, a professor of educational psychology and of African American studies at University of Illinois, conducted the study which analysed the associations between responses to racial theme party images on social networking sites and a colour-blind racial ideology.
Tynes found that white students and those who rated highly in colour-blind racial attitudes were more likely not to be offended by images from racially themed parties at which attendees dressed and acted as caricatures of racial stereotypes (for instance, photos of students dressed in blackface make-up attending a "gangsta party" to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day).
Tynes said: "People who reported higher racial color-blind attitudes were more likely to be white, and more likely to condone or not be bothered by racial-theme party images.
"In fact, some even encouraged the photos by adding comments of heir own such as 'Where's the Colt 45?' or 'Party like a rock tar.' "
For the study, Tynes showed 217 ethnically diverse college students images from racially themed parties and prompted them to respond as if they were writing on a friend's Facebook or MySpace page.
Tynes said: "Since so much of campus life is moving online, we tried to mimic the online social network environment as much as we could.
"What we saw were people's responses almost in real time."
Fifty-eight percent of African-Americans were unequivocally bothered by the images, compared with only 21 percent of whites.
Forty-one percent were in the bothered-ambivalent group, and 24 percent were in the not bothered-ambivalent group.
In the written response portion of the study, the responses ranged from approval and nonchalance ("OMG!! I can't believe you guys would think of that!!! Horrible ... but kinda funny not gonna lie") to mild opprobrium and outrage ("This is obscenely offensive").
The students were also quizzed about their attitudes toward racial privilege, institutional discrimination and racial issues.
Those who scored higher on the measure were more likely to hold colour-blind racial attitudes, and were more likely to be ambivalent or not bothered by the race party photos.
Respondents low in racial colour-blindness were much more vocal in expressing their displeasure and opposition to these images, and would even go so far as to "de-friend" someone over posting those images, Tynes pointed out.
She said: "If you subscribe to a colour-blind racial ideology, you don't think that race or racism exists, or that it should exist.
"You are more likely to think that people who talk about race and racism are the ones who perpetuate it. You think that racial problems are just isolated incidents and that people need to get over it and move on. You're also not very likely to support affirmative action, and probably have a lower multi-cultural competence."
Tynes added: "I wanted to see whether colour-blind racial attitudes played a role in condoning images.
"What we found is that the color-blind ideal commonly socialized and valued among whites may actually be detrimental to race relations on college campuses."
Tynes' research also revealed an incongruence of reactions among white students that she's dubbed "Facebook face."
Tynes said: "To their friends, they would express mild approval of the party photos or just not discuss race.
"But in private, in a reaction that they thought their friends wouldn't see, some students would let us know that they thought the image was racist or that it angered them. We think that it's because whites have been socialized not to talk about race."