Biracial Asians seen as more attractive, more likely to be successful: study

Biracial Asians seen as more attractive, more likely to be successful: studyBiracial Asians seen as more attractive, more likely to be successful: study
Keanu Reeves, Olivia Rodrigo, Darren Criss. Image via Lionsgate Movies, Olivia Rodrigo, Netflix
Carl Samson
April 12, 2024
Biracial individuals, particularly those of Asian and Caucasian descent, are perceived more favorably across various positive attributes than their monoracial peers, according to a new study.
Key points:
  • The study, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, found that biracial individuals are viewed as more attractive, intelligent and trustworthy compared to their monoracial counterparts.
  • Such favorable views could be rooted in evolutionary signals of historical alliances and genetic diversity between different racial groups.
  • The findings challenge traditional racial biases and could influence broader societal acceptance and integration of biracial identities.
The details:
  • The study primarily involved university students, with 227 Caucasian participants from the U.S. and 116 Chinese participants from Beijing and Shanghai. They evaluated a set of 196 photographs, which used advanced graphical morphing software to create a spectrum of facial features ranging from fully Caucasian to fully Asian.
  • The study used two key tasks: a racial perception task to classify perceived racial identity and a social judgment task to rate the faces on various social attributes.
  • Images of people who appeared biracial were rated higher in attractiveness, intelligence, trustworthiness, health and potential for career success than those who seemed to belong to either race. Researchers noted a lack of correlation between the positive ratings and “own-race bias” in racial perception, indicating that the observed favoritism is not simply due to a preference for one’s own racial group.
  • Despite higher attractiveness ratings for biracial individuals, this trait alone did not account for the overall positive social judgments.
  • Study co-author Xiao-Tian Wang, director of the Applied Psychology program at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, highlighted the evolutionary perspective of the research. “Overall, our results suggest that biracial facial features signal a successful genetic admixture and coalition in parental generations and thus increase the trustworthiness and cooperative potential of a biracial person,” Wang told PsyPost.
  • The findings contribute to a broader understanding of how interracial relationships and their descendants are perceived in society. Despite historical discrimination against such relationships, interracial marriages have steadily increased in the U.S., with approval for unions between Black and white people reaching a record 94% in 2021.
What’s next:
  • The study’s reliance on morphed images, as well as the specific cultural contexts of the U.S. and China, call for further and broader testing to verify a universal application of the findings.
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