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U-M Study Shows Social Experiences Influence How We Categorize Multiracial Children

Sep 14, 2015

Credit WikiMedia Commons

A new University of Michigan study looked at how children and adults categorized multiracial children in different ways. 

The study found that adults, regardless of being white or black, tended to categorize multiracial children as black.

But children showed different patterns of thinking about race. White children also said multiracial kids were black, until they were told the child had a white parent. Then they said the child was neither one nor the other. Black children more often said right away they would categorize multiracial kids as neither white or black. 

Doctoral student Steven Roberts authored the study.

He says, "White children from predominantly white neighborhoods and who have mostly white friends, they most often categorized multiracial children as black." But, he says, black children, except those who grew up in predominately white neighborhoods,  were more likely to categorize multiracial children as neither white nor black.

 

Roberts says the study shows that social contexts and experiences heavily influence how people categorize race.

— Amanda LeClaire is an assignment reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact her at 734.487.3363 or email her studio@wemu.org