Motivation to Control Prejudice Predicts Categorization of Multiracials

Jacqueline M. Chen, Wesley G. Moons, Sarah E. Gaither, David L. Hamilton, Jeffrey Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Multiracial individuals often do not easily fit into existing racial categories. Perceivers may adopt a novel racial category to categorize multiracial targets, but their willingness to do so may depend on their motivations. We investigated whether perceivers' levels of internal motivation to control prejudice (IMS) and external motivation to control prejudice (EMS) predicted their likelihood of categorizing Black-White multiracial faces as Multiracial. Across four studies, IMS positively predicted perceivers' categorizations of multiracial faces as Multiracial. The association between IMS and Multiracial categorizations was strongest when faces were most racially ambiguous. Explicit prejudice, implicit prejudice, and interracial contact were ruled out as explanations for the relationship between IMS and Multiracial categorizations. EMS may be negatively associated with the use of the Multiracial category. Therefore, perceivers' motivations to control prejudice have important implications for racial categorization processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)590-603
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • motivation to control prejudice
  • multiracials
  • person perception
  • racial categorization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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