Rationally blind? Rationality polarizes policy support for colour blindness versus multiculturalism

Jonas De keersmaecker, Katharina Schmid, Arne Roets, Namrata Goyal

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review


Do White Americans prefer society to be ‘colour-blind’ by rising above racial identities, or ‘multicultural’ by openly discussing and considering them? We developed an ideology-rationality model to understand support for these diversity perspectives. Specifically, since people endorse a diversity perspective in line with their ideological values, we hypothesized that conservatism is related to a relative preference for colour blindness over multiculturalism. However, since colour blindness and multiculturalism are complex and multi-layered ideologies, we further hypothesized that the relationship between conservatism and a preference for colour blindness over multiculturalism is especially pronounced under higher levels of rationality. Results confirmed the hypotheses, either when rationality was operationalized within a dual process theory (Study 1, N = 496) or experimentally induced within a tripartite model of cognition (Study 2, N = 497). Higher levels of rationality guided White Americans high in conservatism towards a stronger preference for colour-blindness, but those low in conservatism towards a stronger preference for multiculturalism. These results suggest that among White Americans the endorsement of colour blindness versus multiculturalism stems from the interplay between ideological orientation and rationality and that rational considerations about racial policies may further divide rather than unify along ideological lines.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Early online dateJun 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jun 2023


  • analytic thinking
  • colour blindness
  • ideology
  • intergroup relations
  • multiculturalism
  • polarization
  • rationality


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