Health Inequities Research Interest Group. December 14, 2009. Political partisanship influences perception of biracial candidates' skin tone. Eugene Caruso et al. (2009). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
Health Inequities Research Interest Group
December 14, 2009
Political partisanship influences people's visual representations of a biracial political candidate's skin tone.
“We expected these biased visual representations to reflect nonconscious associations with skin tone, whereby White is associated with good and Black is associated with bad.”
In three studies, participants rated the representativeness of photographs of a hypothetical (Study 1) or real (Barack Obama;
Studies 2 and 3) biracial political candidate.
Unbeknownst to participants, some of the photographs had been altered to make the candidate's skin tone either lighter or darker than it was in the original photograph.
Participants whose partisanship matched that of the candidate they were evaluating consistently rated the lightened photographs as more representative of the candidate than the darkened photographs, whereas participants whose partisanship did not match that of the candidate showed the opposite pattern.
For evaluations of Barack Obama, the extent to which people rated lightened photographs as representative of him was positively correlated with their stated voting intentions and reported voting behavior in the 2008 Presidential election.
This effect persisted when controlling for political ideology and racial attitudes.
These results suggest that people's visual representations of others are related to their own preexisting beliefs and to the decisions they make in a consequential context.
The study's result "goes along with sort of these cultural ideas that we have about things that are light versus things that are dark as being either good or bad, positive or negative," says Keith Maddox, a psychology researcher at Tufts University who has studied how people perceive skin tone.
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Borrell LN et al. Soc Sci Med. 2006 Sep;63(6):1415-27. Self-reported health, perceived racial discrimination, and skin color in African Americans in the CARDIA study.
Kreiger, N e tal. Am J Public Health. 1998 Sep;88(9):1308-13. Racial discrimination and skin color in the CARDIA study: implications for public health research. Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults.
Landale, NS et al. Soc Sci Med. 2005 Jul;61(2):379-91. What does skin color have to do with infant health? An analysis of low birth weight among mainland and island Puerto Ricans.
To identify or propose measures of racism that can be used in research and intervention on the impacts of racism on the health and well-being of the nation and world
To identify the mechanisms by which racism operates and has its adverse impacts on health
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Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the NSF to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis;
Individuals with disabilities, which are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; and
Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds
Specific targeted areas of research include biobehavioral studies that incorporate multiple factors that influence child health disparities such as biological (e.g., genetics, cellular, organ systems), lifestyle factors, environmental (physical and family environments) social (e.g. peer influences), economic, institutional, and cultural and family influences;
Studies that target the specific health promotion needs of children with a known illness and/or disability;
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Health Promotion Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Males (R01)
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Solicit applications focusing on the development and testing of culturally and linguistically appropriate health-promoting interventions designed to reduce health disparities among racially and ethnically diverse males and their subpopulations age 21 and older.
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Although improving the absolute level of a population group’s health is a laudable goal, it may not result in changing the group’s relative level of health: The reference population’s health might also improve, thereby maintaining or even widening the gap.
The study of a single population group (in order to elucidate the circumstances that may contribute to health disparities or to test an intervention targeting a particular group) may be included under this announcement. However, the relevance to disparities must be addressed explicitly.
Also of interest is research on the causes of disparities within a single population group (e.g., among African Americans).