A new study has now revealed that an individual's race plays a crucial role in determining whom they see. The researches invited individuals of a biracial background (one Black and one white parent) to think about their parent's ethnicity, Black or White. Had they though about their Black parent, they were able to spot the presence or absence of a Black face with just the same speed and accuracy as a monoracial Black individual. The same effect was observed when they thought about their White parent.
The same held true when asked to think of their White parent. Although all detected Black faces faster than white faces, biracial students were affected by thinking about one half of their racial identity and then behaved as if they were monoracial. The results of this interesting study appear in the latest issue of Psychological Science.
Black, white, and biracial participants performed the visual search task by looking at Black and White faces on a computer screen. To prep the biracial individuals, the participants were asked to write about their mother or father's ethnicity. Black-primed and White-primed biracial individuals differed significantly in the searches, displaying the effects of the manipulation. 'These findings demonstrate that visual perception is malleable to top-down influences, such as orientation provided by one's racial group membership,' the authors conclude.