Study: People Associate ‘Education’ With Lighter Skin

Source: Brian Resnick /The Atlantic

Reading an academic paper on racism is like reading an alien’s take on the human species.

In their summary of the way humans think, these aliens describe racism as “phenotypic features associated with the social categorization of racial groups [that] have been strongly linked to stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination.” Don’t those humans know those “phenotypic features” (i.e., genetic factors) that form race only account for 6 to 10 percent of the genetic differences between humans? Silly humans. Often this stereotyping manifests itself in what’s called “skin tone memory bias,” or, in the common tongue, racism.

The array of skin tones the researchers used in the study. When primed for "educated," participants would more often misidentify a black man as having a lighter skin tone. (Avi Ben-Zeev, Tara Dennehy, Robin Goodrich, Branden Kolarik, and Mark Geisler)

For all their academic euphemisms, the psychologists on a new study in the Journal Sage Open, are not aliens. But they do cooly describe the way subjects implicitly associate “ignorance” with dark skin tone, and “education” with light skin tone.

The students tested at San Francisco State University were shown words like “ignorant” and “educated” for 33 milliseconds. These subliminal prompts are part of a phenomenon known as priming, a manipulation by researchers that preps participants’ minds for a given experiment. After the subliminal word, they saw a picture of a black man.

To read this article in its entirety visit The Atlantic.