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J Exp Child Psychol. 1997 Dec;67(3):363-88.

Shades of meaning: skin tone, racial attitudes, and constructive memory in African American children.

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University of Texas at Austin 78712, USA.


For many decades, researchers have argued that white racism affects African American children's racial attitudes and self concept. To examine the effects of negative majority-culture stereotypes of race on young African American children's intra-racial attitudes, elementary school-age children (N = 56) were asked to recall information embedded in stories that was either consistent or inconsistent with cultural stereotypes of lighter- versus darker-complexioned African Americans. To test the importance of individual differences and cognitive variables, children were later given measures of interracial attitudes, self-perceived skin tone, skin tone selection, and classification skill. As predicted, children showed better memory for stereotypic than counterstereotypic information about skin tone. Individual differences in the extent to which this memory bias was evident varied in relation to children's (a) endorsement of negative majority-culture views of African Americans and (b) self-ratings of skin color. The research has important theoretical implication for understanding racial attitude and identity development, and has applied implications for the design of multicultural programs for African American, as well as Euro-American, children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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