Date of Award

Spring 5-2018

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Elena Stepanova

Advisor Department



This work examines whether explicit and implicit racial attitudes are driven primarily by skin tone, other features of facial physiognomy, or both in elementary school children (N = 108) between the ages of 5 and 12. Children evaluated faces varying in skin tone (from dark to light) and facial physiognomy (from Afrocentric to Eurocentric). In an explicit bias task, children rated how much they liked each face that appeared on the computer screen one by one. In an implicit bias task (a child-friendly version of the Affect Misattribution Procedure, Dunham & Emory, 2014), on each trial participants rated a Chinese character target as “good” or “bad” following a racial prime. In the explicit task, faces with darker skin tone and more Afrocentric faces were generally evaluated more negatively by both White and non-White children, which was especially true for darker skin tone faces with Eurocentric physiognomy. In addition, White children preferred faces with lighter skin tone while non-White children preferred faces with medium skin tone. Skin tone exerted a bigger influence than facial physiognomy on explicit attitudes. Results on the implicit task were more equivocal; reflecting an interactive relationship between participant race, skin tone and facial physiognomy. These findings provide evidence that pro-White attitudes (especially explicit) are driven by both factors, vary by race, and are present in both White and non-White children. There is emerging evidence that pro-White biases might be more internalized by non-White children in the American South.


Honors College Award: Excellence in Research