In the Eye of the Beholder: Observed Race and Observer Characteristics

David Harris, University of Michigan

Considerable recent attention has focused on the categories we use to measure race, but surprisingly little attention has been given to how racial classification varies by observer. This study addresses this gap through a web-based survey of college freshmen. Students were shown photographs representative of people from a broad range of racial categories, and asked to identify each person's race. Students provided information about their own race and gender, as well as the racial composition of their families, schools, and communities. These data allowed for an assessment of the relationship between observer characteristics and observed race. Results from this project will help guide the future collection and interpretation of racial data.

Presented in Session 45: Challenges and Opportunities of Multiple Race Identification