OSU Psychologist Publishes Book on Colorblindness

Ohio State University Psychologist Philip Mazzocco has just published a new book which explores the topic of colorblindness, or people who claim to not see race. Mazzocco explores the fact that people with wildly different beliefs about race often share this belief in their colorblindness. The book is titled “The Psychology of Racial Colorblindness: A Critical Review.”

In his book, Mazzocco outlines a new model of what it means to be racially colorblind in today’s society. He disentangles the different meanings and comes up with four categories of colorblindness: protectionist, egalitarian, antagonistic and visionary.

Mazzocco doesn’t believe that any type of racial colorblindness is good for society, although some of the four types are clearly more offensive than others. The model for his book uses whites as the example, but the theory could be applied to anyone. The fact that these different varieties have been lumped together helps explain why research findings on the issue have been so contradictory, according to Mazzocco.

Most participants in Mazzocco’s initial study claimed to be racially colorblind – only about 27 percent said they weren’t. The egalitarian group was the largest at 29 percent, followed by protectionist at 20 percent, visionary at 18 percent and antagonistic at 7 percent.

The fact that nearly three-quarters of Americans claim to be colorblind is a problem, Mazzocco said, because claiming you don’t see race is “a conversation ender.”

“One of the implications of racial colorblindness is that we’re not going to have a discussion about the topic. You can have two people who say they’re colorblind, one of the visionary variety and one of the antagonistic variety, with wildly different sets of belief,” he said.

“But they may think they have similar viewpoints and therefore believe that many people share their opinions. If they had a true conversation, they may find out their views aren’t so common and they might need to consider other opinions.”

Mazzocco said colorblindness of any variety is harmful because it does not recognize the myriad problems minorities face in our society.