Event Title

A Qualitative study of the Effect of Hairstyle on Perceptions of Black Women’s Personality and Earning Potential

Poster Number

41

Presenter Information

Malyn V. PopeFollow

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Merry Sleigh

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

Location

Richardson Ballroom

Start Date

22-4-2016 2:15 PM

End Date

22-4-2016 4:15 PM

Description

Phase one of the study examined whether the hairstyle of a black woman would influence perceptions of her personality and earning potential. One of four conditions (afro, curly, straight, dreadlocks) was randomly generated for each participant to view. Participants assessed the target individual’s warmth, competence, earning potential and her likely career. Participants ranked jobs that the woman was likely to hold (administrative assistant, company director, and professor). The curly condition was more likely to be perceived as the company director than any other condition, while the other conditions were most likely to be perceived as secretaries. For the second phase of this study, we conducted qualitative interviews with black and white young adults. Participants were asked to “guess” what we found in phase one of the study. Then after revealing the results, asked to explain why they think our participants responded as they did. Results indicate that almost all participants anticipated the straight hair condition to be perceived most positively (attractive and professional). After results were revealed, black participants theorized a possible explanation for participants rating all of the women as being attractive, professional, and average wage earners may have been due to skin tone rather than hairstyle because that variable was held constant. Some participants believed that the results would have been more like they expected if the target had a darker skin tone. The findings of our qualitative study also indicate that hairstyle may be even more important in perceptions of beauty when black women have darker skin.

Previously Presented/Performed?

SAEOPP McNair/SSS Scholars Research Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, June 2015
Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 2016

Awards Won

Winner, 2nd Place Poster Presentation at the SAEOPP McNair/SSS Research Conference, June 2015

Comments

McNair Scholar

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Apr 22nd, 2:15 PM Apr 22nd, 4:15 PM

A Qualitative study of the Effect of Hairstyle on Perceptions of Black Women’s Personality and Earning Potential

Richardson Ballroom

Phase one of the study examined whether the hairstyle of a black woman would influence perceptions of her personality and earning potential. One of four conditions (afro, curly, straight, dreadlocks) was randomly generated for each participant to view. Participants assessed the target individual’s warmth, competence, earning potential and her likely career. Participants ranked jobs that the woman was likely to hold (administrative assistant, company director, and professor). The curly condition was more likely to be perceived as the company director than any other condition, while the other conditions were most likely to be perceived as secretaries. For the second phase of this study, we conducted qualitative interviews with black and white young adults. Participants were asked to “guess” what we found in phase one of the study. Then after revealing the results, asked to explain why they think our participants responded as they did. Results indicate that almost all participants anticipated the straight hair condition to be perceived most positively (attractive and professional). After results were revealed, black participants theorized a possible explanation for participants rating all of the women as being attractive, professional, and average wage earners may have been due to skin tone rather than hairstyle because that variable was held constant. Some participants believed that the results would have been more like they expected if the target had a darker skin tone. The findings of our qualitative study also indicate that hairstyle may be even more important in perceptions of beauty when black women have darker skin.