Date of Conferral







Donna Heretick



Skin tone of an African American is a key primer for prejudicial attitudes among Whites,

with darker skin tones eliciting more negative reactions. No previous studies have

examined this phenomenon with African Americans as the evaluators. Social identity and

social categorization theories, and Cross' theory of nigrescence, provided theoretical

frameworks for this study. It was proposed that male African American observers'

evaluations of another African American male may depend not only on the skin tone of

the target (job candidate) and the quality of his credentials, but also on the observer's

own skin tone and stage of racial identity. Using Harrison and Thomas' methodology

with White observers, 136 self-identified African American males were randomly

assigned to 1 of 3 conditions that varied skin tone (light, medium, dark) of the male

shown in a photo and the quality of the resume (lower, higher) presented with that job

candidate. In addition, each participant was assessed for stage of racial identity and self

reported skin tone. After viewing the photo and resume, participants evaluated the job

candidate on hireability, trustworthiness, expertise, and attractiveness. There were no

statistically significant findings. Outcomes suggested possible problems with the

experimental materials that had been used previously with White observers. Further,

there were problems with gaining adequate sample sizes for the person variables,

suggesting a need for larger samples for future research. Despite the nonsignificant

statistical findings, intraracial discrimination continues to be an important area for future

study. Indeed, understanding intraracial social judgments related to skin tone among

African Americans has as much social significance as understanding evaluations of

African Americans by Whites and others.