Research in the News
Professor Adam Alter's joint research on the link between a person's skin tone and how he or she is perceived
— January 17, 2017
Excerpt from Scientific American -- "Although psychologists have known for a long time that people associate dark skin with negative personality traits, this research shows that the reverse is also true: when we hear about an evil act, we are more likely to believe it was done by someone with darker skin. This 'bad is black' effect may have its roots in our deep-seated human tendency to associate darkness with wickedness. Across time and cultures, we tend to portray villains as more likely to be active during nighttime and to don black clothing. Similarly, our heroes are often associated with daytime and lighter colors. These mental associations between color and morality may negatively bias us against people with darker skin tones. If this is true, it has far-reaching implications for our justice system. For example, eyewitnesses to crimes may be more likely to falsely identify suspects who possess darker skin."