Lighter Skinned Blacks and Hispanics Are Seen as Being More Intelligent New research suggests bias also can be found within racial categories. TOM JACOBS FEB 25, 2015 224
Over the years, a disturbing amount of research has suggested that the amount of discrimination faced by African Americans is, to some degree, a matter of skin tone. A few examples:
A 2006 study of job applicants found a light-skinned black man can have only a bachelor’s degree and still be preferred over a dark-skinned black man with an MBA. A 2010 study found black women in North Carolina with lighter skin tones received more lenient prison sentences and spent less time behind bars. In January of last year, a study found highly educated African Americans are later remembered as being “whiter” than they are in real life. While there is a clear pattern here, the evidence is, by its nature, inferential. But in a newly published study, Villanova University sociologist Lance Hannon presents the most concrete findings yet that whites’ impressions of blacks and Latinos depends in part on their skin tone.
Using data from the 2012 American National Election Study, he finds that “African American and Latino respondents with the lightest skin are several times more likely to be seen by whites as intelligent, compared with those with the darkest skin.”
This prejudice, whether conscious or not, “could create substantially unequal access to economic, social, and cultural resources,” Hannon writes in the journal Social Currents.
The National Election Study is a face-to-face survey in which respondents answer a variety of questions about politics. They also disclose their income and education level, and take a brief vocabulary test.