Discrepancies in East Asians' perceived actual and ideal phenotypic facial features


Thai M, Lee AJ, Axt JR, Hornsey MJ & Barlow FK (2020) Discrepancies in East Asians' perceived actual and ideal phenotypic facial features. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 11 (3), p. 117–125.

The present study tested for the existence of a phenotypic actual-ideal discrepancy in East Asians’ appraisals of their own faces, in the direction of idealizing a phenotypically “Whiter” face than they perceived themselves to have. The study was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, East Asian participants residing in the U.S. (N = 104; Mage = 18.73) came into the lab to have their photograph taken. They were sent a link to complete the second phase online. Participants were required to recall either their previous day, an experience of racial discrimination, or an experience of racial acceptance. They then selected their actual and ideal face from an array of faces comprising their actual face and eight variants of their face that had been transformed to look phenotypically more “White” or more “East Asian”. A robust actual-ideal discrepancy emerged: participants both idealized a phenotypically “Whiter” face and perceived themselves as having a more phenotypically “East Asian” face than they objectively did. This discrepancy arose irrespective of whether participants were reminded of an incident of racial discrimination or acceptance.

East Asian, racial phenotypicality; stigma; face morphing; racial min

Asian American Journal of Psychology: Volume 11, Issue 3

Publication date30/09/2020
Publication date online31/12/2020
Date accepted by journal29/02/2020