African American skin tone bias: An examination of patterns of *attribution

Keisha L Bowens, Tennessee State University


In order to gain a better understanding of the experiences of African Americans in America, research must begin to focus on specific differences that exist within the African American community (Celious & Oyserman, 2001). African American skin tone has demonstrated itself as being very significant in the way that not only Whites perceive Blacks, but also in terms how Blacks perceive other Blacks. Those with darker complexions tend to receive negative messages regarding their level of attractiveness. Simultaneously, messages are communicated within society that individuals with similarities to European Americans are more readily accepted than their darker counterparts. Three studies were conducted to examine patterns of attributions within this research. A total of 212 individuals participated in the third portion of the study: group 1 (n = 73), group 2 (n = 71), and group 3 (n = 68). Within various domains, significant findings were found among Blacks and Whites in the way they attributed traits toward members of their in-group and out-group. It appears that in various settings, both Blacks and Whites focus more on internal abilities when in-group members are in situations that are viewed positively. While African Americans with light skin tones would be considered having an in-group affiliation with Blacks; both Blacks and Whites treated light skin tones as in-group members in positive and negative situations.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Black studies|African American Studies

Recommended Citation

Keisha L Bowens, "African American skin tone bias: An examination of patterns of *attribution" (2005). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3187588.