Recognition or Invisibility? Comparing First- and Third-Person Measures of Race and Ethnic Identity in the University of Washington Beyond High School Project

Anthony D. Perez, University of Washington
Charles Hirschman, University of Washington

Race is most often conceptualized as a characteristic that defines populations based on shared physical appearance, but in social research, race is measured by self-reported identities, which are subject to political and cultural forces as well as personal preferences. Since external measures of race are not included in most data sets, the consequences of relying on self-reported data to determine the size and characteristics of race/ethnic sub-populations have not been examined. We take steps toward addressing these limitations by presenting findings from a recently collected, first-of-its-kind data set that contains independent, third-person measures of “observed race” for nearly 10,000 high school seniors in Washington State. In this introductory paper, we examine the overlap and divergence between expressed and observed race for every major race/ethnic group as well as detailed Asian/PI and Hispanic sub-populations. Results reveal considerable heterogeneity in the “visibility” of race/ethnic identities, both within and between major population groups.

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Presented in Session 123: Measurement of Race and Ethnicity