Immorality-blackness associations and the moral-purity metaphor in African Americans

Amanda Cooksey Daniel, Tennessee State University


This research explored the automatic associations between moral-immoral word meanings and the colors black and white among African Americans. Previous research demonstrates that moral goodness is often likened to physical cleanliness, called the moral-purity metaphor. At the same time, individuals tend to make immorality-blackness associations rapidly and automatically as evidenced by a Stroop task, also called the moral Stroop effect. A replication of a portion of Sherman and Clore.s (2009) study, "The Color of Sin: White and Black are Perceptual Symbols of Moral Purity and Pollution," data was collected to compare whether African Americans possessed the same moral Stroop effect noted by Sherman and Clore's (2009) mainly Caucasian participants. Results demonstrated that the speed of color naming in a Stroop task was faster when words presented in black concerned immorality (e.g. sin) and words presented in white concerned morality (e.g. honesty). It was determined that African American participants maintained the same moral-purity metaphor as Caucasians. Participants in this study made immorality-blackness and morality-whiteness associations quickly and relatively automatically. Further analysis measured whether political orientation and gender were related to the moral Stroop effect, but no significance was found.

Subject Area

African American Studies|Black studies|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Amanda Cooksey Daniel, "Immorality-blackness associations and the moral-purity metaphor in African Americans" (2010). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI1483772.