Study Shows People View People With Darker Skin As Less Intelligent

January 16, 2014  |  

Colorism is a hot topic lately. Iyanla Vanzant and Oprah Winfrey recently discussed the issue of discrimination based on skin color during an episode of Oprah’s Lifeclass.

And now a new study reveals the ways it affects how people equate education with skin color. The study, “When an ‘Educated’ Black Man Becomes Lighter in the Mind’s Eye,” conducted by professors at San Francisco State University, tackles the concept of “skin tone memory bias.”

According to the provocative report, people subconsciously remember educated black men as having lighter skin.

“Black individuals who defy social stereotypes might not challenge social norms sufficiently but rather may be remembered as lighter, perpetuating status quo beliefs,” the study says. So basically, according to the study, the darker a person, the more ignorant people perceive him to be–and these thoughts are for the most part are subconscious.

The study was published in the journal Sage Open, and included two experiments using students from the university.

In both experiments, students were subliminally shown one of two words: “ignorant” or “educated,” reports The Huffington Post. Then they were shown a photo of a black man after which they were shown seven photos with the same man’s face just with varying skin tones. Three photos were darker in skin tone, three photos were of lighter complexions, and one was the original. Next the students were asked to select the correct photo.

The study participants who were initially shown the word “educated” most often selected a man with lighter skin-tone.

According to the study’s authors,”Phenotypic features associated with the social categorization of racial groups have been strongly linked to stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. Notably, individuals perceived to possess higher levels of Afrocentric features (e.g., dark skin, full lips, wide nose, coarse hair) have been subject to increased negative stereotyping…leading to real-world repercussions, such as receiving longer prison sentences for crimes equated for severity and priors.”

And the authors point out colorism isn’t a problem only African Americans face.  They say it even affects whites and Latinos as well.

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