The Echoes of the Mind (85-1) Black


Black is sinister in every culture: the color of evil and death. The bad guys wear black hats.

Teams in the US National Football League and National Hockey League with black uniforms rank near the top of their leagues in penalties. When a team switches from nonblack to black uniforms, penalties go up.

Professional referees watched replays of an identical football scrimmage. The ones who saw the black-uniformed version rated the play as more aggressive and deserving a penalty than those that saw the white-uniformed version.

The enduring bias against black people by whites, which is especially egregious in the United States, owes in large part to skin color. Black Americans, even children, are perceived as more aggressive than Caucasians.

The more self-confident and positive a white person is about social acceptance, the greater the perception that a similar black person is bellicose; the darker the skin, the worse the bias.

Black men are judged to be larger, stronger, and more muscular than white men of the same size. American white men also believe that black men more capable of causing harm, and that police are justified in using force to subdue them, even if the men are unarmed.

Unarmed black men are disproportionately more likely to be shot and killed by police, and often these killings are accompanied by explanations that cite the physical size of the person shot. These descriptions reflect stereotypes of black males that do not comport with reality. ~American social psychologist John Paul Wilson


People tend not to recognize bias in their judgments. Such “bias blindness” persists even when people acknowledge that the judgmental strategies preceding their judgments are biased. Not only does sense of personal objectivity survive using a biased strategy, it grows stronger. ~ American psychologist Katherine Hansen et al