The smarter you dress, the ‘whiter’ you appear

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  • It seems race isn't all black and white - new research suggests that what we wear impacts on how we are perceived

    A new study suggests that how we perceive a person’s race is not just based on skin tone but also how smartly they dress.

    Scientists from Tufts University, Stanford University and the University of California found volunteers were more likely to label someone as white if they were dressed in a suit – irrespective of skin tone – and black if they were dressed in working overalls.

    Study author Jonathan B Freeman suggests that perception of race is shaped by prejudices that we already hold.

    ‘The study shows how perception of a face is always a compromise between visual cues before our eyes and the baggage we bring to the table,’ he says.

    The more racially ambiguous someone’s face is, the more we rely on clothing to distinguish rac – suggesting racism can be subconscious and is rooted in preconceived ideas.

    ‘Racial stereotypes are powerful enough to trickle down to affect even basic visual processing of other people, systematically skewing the way we view our social world,’ says Freeman.

    Do you agree? Can racism be subconscious? Or is it a deliberate act of discrimination?

    Let Marie Claire know your thoughts below.


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