Study: Dress Better, Look Whiter?

New research on race and clothing reveals subconscious stereotyping.

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Racial stereotypes -- especially those that lurk in the subconscious -- are so stubborn.

According to a new study, our very perception of whether a person is white or black can depend on the clothes he or she is wearing, the United Kingdom's Daily Mail reports.

Volunteers participating in an experiment by a team from Tufts, Stanford and the University of California were asked to racially categorize computerized images of people with various skin tones and attire. You guessed it: They were more inclined to label those wearing suits as white (even if the face was dark) and those in "working overalls" as black.

Never mind that we have a black president who wears a suit every day. The scientists revealed (or confirmed, depending on who you ask) that perception of race is shaped by long-standing prejudices -- and that the associated stereotypes run deeper than we think.

Even when a white face was dressed down, the volunteers' hand movements indicated that they were at first instinctively drawn to label it black. The researchers determined this using a hand-tracking technique that followed the trajectory of the mouse.

The more racially ambiguous the face was, the more the volunteers relied on the clothing to reach an answer.

The study's lead author, Jonathan B Freeman, explained that perception of race involves "the baggage we bring to the table, like the stereotypes we hold." This is just the latest evidence that that baggage is heavier than many are aware of or would like to admit.

Read more at the Daily Mail.

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