“Blood,” Looks, Language: The Moderating Effects of Race and Ethnicity on IdentityAbstract:
Through a series of social psychology experiments, this project attempts to ascertain the ways in which “native” Koreans (those who are both racially and ethnically Korean) perceive the identity of multiracial and multicultural Koreans. Under the umbrella of “identity,” “race” and “ethnicity” are the variables studied; more specifically, the interaction between “blood” (one’s heritage or ancestry), phenotype (how one looks)—considered in this context as “racial” features—and language— considered in this context as an “ethic” feature—is examined. The purpose of the studies is to understand which of these three variables is privileged when determining the identity of “ambiguous” others, and to understand which “others” are considered most “Korean.”
This project has a cross-cultural component in that a parallel study is to be run in the United States, in order to understand notions of “American-ness” as compared to those of “Korean-ness.” Following previous work (Steffans & Mummendey, 2010) that shows that Europeans rely more on accent information (than on appearance information) when determining what country a person is from, the hypothesis is that American participants will similarly rely more on “language” information (than on “looks” or “blood” information) when determining who is most “American.” On the other hand, the prediction is that Korean participants will rely more on “blood” information (than on “looks” or “language” information) when determining who is most “Korean.”
This research has implications for the psychological and social well-being and acceptance of not only those who are traditionally considered “other” in Korea, but of all Koreans.