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Race, Ethnicity, and Acculturation: How Racially Matched Images Influence Subsequent Perceptions of Beauty

50 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2014 Last revised: 11 Feb 2014

Wagner A. Kamakura

Rice University

Nives Zubcevic-Basic

Swinburne University of Technology - Faculty of Business and Enterprise

Date Written: January 16, 2014

Abstract

Images of stereotypical Western beauty are seemingly everywhere, and yet how they’re perceived by consumers in a multi-cultural environment is not well understood. The authors propose that perceptions of facial beauty largely depend on the interaction between both the race of the consumer and the stimulus (viewer-source similarity). This is driven by an unconscious biological preference. We show that the impact of racial matching on beauty perceptions is enhanced by the strength of the subject’s ethnic identity and attenuated when the subject is more attuned to the prevailing national culture. However, the attenuation effect of acculturation is weaker than that enhancing effect of ethnic identity. The authors argue that this phenomenon occurs because ethnic identity is inherited and plays a biological role, while acculturation is socially embraced. To further elucidate this, the authors employ social identity theory which allows for simultaneous and independent ethnic and national identities. The authors test these effects through the development of a novel experiment which accounts for differences in inherent attractiveness of 60 stimuli. Furthermore, an instrument is created to capture individual (unobservable) differences in beauty perceptions that are not ethnically or racially driven.

Suggested Citation

Kamakura, Wagner A. and Zubcevic-Basic, Nives, Race, Ethnicity, and Acculturation: How Racially Matched Images Influence Subsequent Perceptions of Beauty (January 16, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2380365 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2380365

Wagner A. Kamakura (Contact Author)

Rice University ( email )

6100 South Main Street
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77005-1892
United States
(713) 348-6307 (Phone)

Nives Zubcevic-Basic

Swinburne University of Technology - Faculty of Business and Enterprise ( email )

PO Box 218
Hawthorn, VIC 3122
Australia

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