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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2016 Dec;42(12):1653-1665.

The "Bad Is Black" Effect: Why People Believe Evildoers Have Darker Skin Than Do-Gooders.

Author information

1
New York University, New York City, USA aalter@stern.nyu.edu.
2
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.
3
New York University, New York City, USA.

Abstract

Across six studies, people used a "bad is black" heuristic in social judgment and assumed that immoral acts were committed by people with darker skin tones, regardless of the racial background of those immoral actors. In archival studies of news articles written about Black and White celebrities in popular culture magazines (Study 1a) and American politicians (Study 1b), the more critical rather than complimentary the stories, the darker the skin tone of the photographs printed with the article. In the remaining four studies, participants associated immoral acts with darker skinned people when examining surveillance footage (Studies 2 and 4), and when matching headshots to good and bad actions (Studies 3 and 5). We additionally found that both race-based (Studies 2, 3, and 5) and shade-based (Studies 4 and 5) associations between badness and darkness determine whether people demonstrate the "bad is black" effect. We discuss implications for social perception and eyewitness identification.

KEYWORDS:

bias; implicit prejudice; morality; race; skin tone

PMID:
27856725
DOI:
10.1177/0146167216669123
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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