Event Title

Perceptions of Professional Women’s Eurocentric versus Afrocentric Hair

Poster Number

059

Session Title

Gender, Ethnicity, and Bias

Document Type

Poster Presentation

Faculty Mentor

Merry Sleigh Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Psychology

Description

The present study examined men’s and women’s perceptions of their own hair and that of women in the workplace. It was hypothesized that Afrocentric hair on a black woman would be perceived as less professional than Eurocentric hair on either a white or black woman. It was also hypothesized that black women would have higher hair esteem than white women. Participants were 125 young adults with a mean age of 20.01 (SD = 4.61). Seventy-six percent were women, and 24% were men. 44% of participants were white, 43% were black, and the remainder reported other ethnicities. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions where they viewed one image: black woman with Afrocentric hair, black woman with Eurocentric hair, or white woman with Eurocentric hair. (The depicted women wore the same business suit.) Participants provided their perceptions of the pictures and then responded to a hair esteem scale as if they were the pictured woman and then as themselves. Social dominance, subtle prejudice, and symbolic racism were also assessed. Matching the hypothesis, black adults seemed to have very positive attitudes about black hair. However, they simultaneously expressed concern over how they were perceived by others. Overall perceptions of the black women were more positive than that of the white woman, with the Eurocentric hair garnering more favorable ratings than the Afrocentric hair. This favoritism suggests that Eurocentric standards of beauty still exist. White people who perceived black hair poorly had more racist attitudes toward black people in general.

Previously Presented/Performed?

Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 2020; Sixth Annual Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE), Winthrop University, April 2020

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Apr 24th, 12:00 AM

Perceptions of Professional Women’s Eurocentric versus Afrocentric Hair

The present study examined men’s and women’s perceptions of their own hair and that of women in the workplace. It was hypothesized that Afrocentric hair on a black woman would be perceived as less professional than Eurocentric hair on either a white or black woman. It was also hypothesized that black women would have higher hair esteem than white women. Participants were 125 young adults with a mean age of 20.01 (SD = 4.61). Seventy-six percent were women, and 24% were men. 44% of participants were white, 43% were black, and the remainder reported other ethnicities. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions where they viewed one image: black woman with Afrocentric hair, black woman with Eurocentric hair, or white woman with Eurocentric hair. (The depicted women wore the same business suit.) Participants provided their perceptions of the pictures and then responded to a hair esteem scale as if they were the pictured woman and then as themselves. Social dominance, subtle prejudice, and symbolic racism were also assessed. Matching the hypothesis, black adults seemed to have very positive attitudes about black hair. However, they simultaneously expressed concern over how they were perceived by others. Overall perceptions of the black women were more positive than that of the white woman, with the Eurocentric hair garnering more favorable ratings than the Afrocentric hair. This favoritism suggests that Eurocentric standards of beauty still exist. White people who perceived black hair poorly had more racist attitudes toward black people in general.