Changing Concepts of Race: Differences between Multiracial and Monoracial Individuals

Publication Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date



Can people’s views of race be changed or are our views concerning race fixed and immutable? The present research investigates how multiracial individuals and monoracial individuals differ concerning their views of race and whether elements of this experience can be used in an experimental setting to change monoracials’ views of race. Using a simple scale concerning race as either a biological or social construct, over 1000 students from a diverse southwestern campus were sampled. It was shown that multiracial individuals tended to see race as equally driven by both biological and social considerations, while monoracials tended to see race as primarily a biological phenomenon. Considering the fluidity of multiracial individuals’ experience with race, we exposed monoracial students to a scenario in which they partook in only one of three experiences: one that construed race as biologically driven, socially driven, or a control. It was found that being exposed to and considering participation in an experience that would involve seeing race as either essentialist (i.e., biological) or fluid (i.e., socially constructed) significantly affected how individuals perceived of race later in the study. These findings demonstrate that one’s experience of race can contribute to one’s cognitive framework of race as either essentialist or fluid.


Multicultural Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts | Social Psychology

Research Areas



Society for Personality and Social Psychology Annual Meeting 2008, February 7-9

City or Country

Albuquerque, NM

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