A new study has revealed that beauty may actually be in the ear of the beholder, rather than the eye.
A recent analysis by researcher Robert L. Reece found that people oftentimes view African-Americans as more attractive if they identify as multi-racial.
The gag here is that the study results had absolutely nothing to do one’s appearance; subjects simply had to state they were from mixed racial backgrounds, after which respondents gave them more points for being attractive.
“Being exotic is a compelling idea,” Reece told the Duke Research blog. “So people are attracted to a certain type of difference. It’s also partially just racism — the notion that Black people are less attractive, so being partially not-Black makes you more attractive.”
According to the blog, Reece used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to conduct his analysis. The doctoral candidate in sociology at Duke then examined the results of over 3,200 in-person interviews between Black people and people of varying races.
The interviewers posed a series of questions to the interviewees, including inquiries into their racial heritage. Questioners then rated the study subjects based on their attractiveness; 1 being the least attractive and 5 being the most attractive.
The study found that interviewees who identified as multi-racial were given an average attractiveness rating of 3.74. In contrast, questioners gave those who identified as Black an average attractiveness rating of 3.47 – a small, but significant difference of 0.27 points.
To ensure it was the claim of multi-racial heritage that solely influenced the attractiveness ratings, Reece made it a point to control for factors such as gender, age, skin tone, hair color, and eye color, according to the Duke Research blog.
“Race is more than we think it is,” he said. “It’s more than physical characteristics and ancestry and social class. The idea that you’re a certain race shapes how people view you.”
Reece’s research also made the startling find that African-Americans with darker skin who identified as mixed-race were deemed more attractive than their lighter-skinned counterparts who identified as Black. Such a finding pokes a massive hole in the widespread belief that light-skinned Blacks are favored over dark-skinned Blacks.
“It’s a loaded cognitive suggestion when you say ‘I’m not just black, I’m also Native American, for example,” Reece explained. “It changes the entire dynamic.”
According to Medical Daily, the sociologist plans to use this newfound information to further examine how race mixing is interpreted among Black Americans.
A similar study assessing negative stereotypes about Black women and positive stereotypes about white, lighter-skinned women was published earlier this month. The analysis conducted by three Brazilian researchers from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais found that the phrase “ugly woman” returned disproportionate image results of Black women when Googled.
In the U.S. specifically, searches for “beautiful” women yielded images that were 80 percent white, and featured women between the ages of 19 and 28, Atlanta Black Star reports. Searches for “ugly” women returned 60 percent white images and 30 percent Black, all between the ages of 30 and 50.
The analysis also revealed negative stereotypes of Black women in African countries like Nigeria and Angola, which have large populations of people with Black and brown skin.