The Effects of Skin Tone Bias on Perceptions Concerning The Beauty of African American Women

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  • 1. The Effects of Skin Tone Biason Perceptions ConcerningThe Beauty of AfricanAmerican WomenOlivia CarterDr. Eric LittmanXavier University

2. Background In the African American culture, differences in skin tone have beencommonly known to cause a division within the race Skin tone is the avenue by which the race holds a prejudice amongstone another as well as receive such from other races The most common prejudice is that African Americans with a lighterskin tone are viewed in a more positive light than those of a darkerskin tone Stereotypes of lighter skin toned African Americans: moreattractive, affluent, pleasant personality, proper speech, etc. Stereotypes of darker skin toned African Americans:ugly, aggressive, less intelligent, angry, threatening, etc. This prejudice dates way back to slavery when the lighter skin tonedslaves were able to work in the house while the darker skin toneslaves got to work in the field This was also a huge issue during the 1950s 3. Background In 1995 Robinson & Ward hypothesized that AfricanAmerican teenage women would show a greaterpreference for lighter toned African American womenthan teenage men would. Robinson & Ward found that their hypothesis was notsupported. According to the results, men showed ahigher preference for lighter skin tone than women. 4. Background In 2006, Rosenberg and Snider took it a step further andstudied the effects of hair texture in addition to theeffects of skin tone bias amongst African Americans andtheir perceptions of beauty. Rosenberg & Snider found that participants viewedAfrican Americans with a silkier hair texture as moreattractive than those with other hair textures. Theyfound that the African American participants who hadexperienced some type of skin tone prejudice by otherAfrican Americans disliked their skin tone and thiseffected their self esteem levels. Additionally, men and women believed that these twofeatures (hair and skin tone) play a role in who theydecide to date. 5. My Study In the current study, the effects of skin will be measuredagainst perceptions of beauty as it pertains to AfricanAmerican women I hypothesize that a lighter skin tone will be viewed asmore attractive to participants regardless of race thanthat of the darker skin tone. In doing this I hope to get the current view on theAfrican American skin tone bias and observe whether ornot the issue is as prevalent as it has been in previoushistory. I would also like to observe whether this is just acultural problem or if it is a problem within our societyas a whole. 6. Method 24 Participants (14 female; 10 male) had 30s to vieweach of 8 images 4 Light skin photos 4 dark skin photos After viewing each image, participants completed theMcCroskey & McCain (1974) Interpersonal Attractionquestionnaire on that image This was repeated until all eight images were shown 7. Sample QuestionnaireInterpersonal Attraction ScaleInstructions: Please indicate the degree to which you agree or disagree with the following statements as theyapply to _________________________________Use the following scale and write one number before each statement to indicate your feelings.7 = Strongly agree; 6 = Moderately agree; 5 = Slightly agree; 4 = Undecided; 3 = Slightly disagree;2 = Moderately disagree; 1 = Strongly disagreeIt would be difficult to meet and talk with him (her).He (she) is somewhat ugly.I think he (she) could be a friend of mine.I would like to have a friendly chat with him (her).I think he (she) is quite handsome (pretty).I find him (her) very attractive physically.I dont like the way he (she) looks.He (she) is very sexy looking.*Copyright 1974 by the Speech Communication Association. Reprinted by permission. 8. 12345678SampleImages 9. Results A within-subjects t-test comparing the effects of skin tone on perceivedattractiveness revealed no significant difference, t(24) = -.089, p > .05. These results indicated that there was not a significant difference in theperceived beauty of the light skin African American women (M = 40.39, SE= 1.09) and the dark skinned African American women (M = 39.34, SE =1.15). These results are depicted in Figure 1.Figure 1 10. Results (Cont.) Furthermore although the results were not significant, results showed that males (M =40.87, SE = 2.38) tended to rate the women as more attractive than females (M =39.36, SE = 1.47) I was also able to observe that African Americans (M = 41.46, SE = 2.61) rated theimages as more attractive than Caucasians (M = 40.06, SE = 1.07). These results aredepicted in Figure 2.Figure 2 11. Discussion Overall, the study found that there was not a significant statisticaldifference between the attractiveness of light and dark skin women However, the study did show that on average the lighter skinnedwoman received higher ratings than the darker skinned woman The study showed that females, regardless of race, tended to ratethe images of the lighter skin toned women as more attractive thanthe darker skinned images; with Caucasian women giving higherratings to the women overall The ratings of the men tended to differ based off of race. AfricanAmerican men rated the dark skinned women as more attractivethan the lighter skinned women Caucasian men rated the light skinned woman as more attractivethan the images of the dark skinned women. Additionally, African American men gave these women higherratings overall, than the Caucasian men 12. Future Research In the future a larger and more diverse sample would beused I would use digitally altered images in order to controlfacial features and make for a more accurate analysis onthe effects of skin tone on beauty Future research could be done in schools and the workplace to determine the effects of skin tone bias onemployment, incident reports, job satisfaction, customerservice, achievement and salary 13. Why is this important? Beauty is one of the main sources of confidence Confidence reflects performance from the workplace (i.e.:raise, performance, promotions) to other interpersonal interactions We tend to identify with those that look closer to ourselves With the majority of our interactions occurring at work, in storesetc., the topic could be a potential spearhead for a diversitymanagement model for companies This model would be used to help train employees to become moreaware of themselves as well as any bias, possibly improving theirinteractions with one another as well as their customers These worker could apply this training to their daily lives as well This model would spread awareness of the issue in places andbetween people in industries all around in hopes for improvedrelations and higher self esteem reports of African Americans ingeneral 14. Take Home Message Although skin tone bias is not as much of a problem as ithas been in history this research is important in thatskin tone bias affects not only effects how AfricanAmericans are treated but it effects thempersonally, socially, and economically as well 15. References McCain, T. A., & McCroskey, J. C. (1974). The measurement ofinterpersonal attraction. Communication Monographs, 41, 261-266 Robinson, T. L., & Ward, J. V. (1995). African American adolescents andskin color. Journal of Black Psychology, 21(3), 256-274. Rosenberg, J., & Snider, Stefanie. R. (2006). The relationship of skin toneand hair to perceived beauty among African American universitystudents. The University of Alabama McNair Journal, 6, 201-211.