Theses Doctoral

Intimate Intersections: Exploring the Perspectives of Interracial Partners in Heterosexual Romantic Relationships

Loo, Peggy

The purpose of the present study was to explore the endorsement of racial colorblind attitudes among partners in heterosexual interracial romantic relationships, as well as identify the potential effects of a colorblind ideology upon mental health and wellbeing. For interracial partners, race is simultaneously a fundamental part of their relationship with far-reaching implications, and also, simply put, one of many parts. Research attests that while some interracial partners proactively acknowledge race and initiate racial dialogue, others avoid or choose not to “see” race with their significant others (Killian, 2012; Steinbugler, 2012). From a counseling psychology framework, racial colorblindness, or the denial of the importance of race, minimizes the centrality of race and racism – when in fact race continues to hold the power to define social reality (Neville, Awad, Brooks, Flores, & Blumel, 2013). This study investigated the degree to which different interracial partners in heterosexual relationships report racial colorblindness or strategic colorblindness, and if such views impacted self-esteem and relationship satisfaction. Significant differences between partners of color and White partners in strategic colorblindness were indicated from independent-samples t-tests, and a series of one-way between-group analyses of variance found significant differences specifically between Asian and White partners. Multiple regression analyses found no significant associations between any type of colorblindness and relationship satisfaction and no significant associations between self-esteem or relationship esteem and strategic colorblindness. Additional post-hoc analyses that examined demographic characteristics of the sample found specific intersections of gender and race to be associated with strategic colorblindness. History of being in an interracial relationship and relationship length of time were also significantly associated with relationship satisfaction and colorblind racial attitudes, respectively. Limitations of the present study and directions for future research are discussed. Results from this study can be used to identify multiculturally considerate strategies for clinicians working with interracial partners, and bridge growing interracial scholarship with emerging research on racial colorblindness.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Smith, Laura
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 9, 2017