New research finds that the taller the African American man, the more threatening he is perceived to be — by a majority-white audience, at least. That finding is at stark variance with a mountain of evidence that we really look up to men of physical stature. Americans tend to see taller men as more competent and intelligent. We like them more. But those feelings largely reflect our perceptions of white men, said Neil Hester, a social psychology graduate student at the University of North Carolina. In about 15 studies that have tested and confirmed our admiration of tall men, virtually all of the people shown to experimental subjects were white guys. So, along with UNC psychology professor Kurt Gray, Hester tested whether the racial bias that often operates beneath our level of consciousness would change these rules when it comes to evaluating tall black men. Their hypothesis was that it would.
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Lighter Skinned Blacks and Hispanics Are Seen as Being More Intelligent
Black Male Faces More Likely to Be Seen as Threatening
Researchers at the University of North Carolina recently discovered that tall black men are more likely to be viewed as threatening than tall white men. Neil Hester and Kurt Gray analyzed eight years of data — encompassing more than one million cases — from the New York Police Department's controversial stop-and-frisk program. The analysis showed that:. Hester and Gray also had people examine pictures of white and black men and rate them on traits such as competence and threat. Taller black men were rated as more threatening than shorter black men. Taller white men, on the other hand, were not perceived as more threatening than shorter white men. The researchers focused on men in their study, not women.
If you're a man, there are many advantages to being tall. Research has found that tall men are more attractive to women , are perceived as natural leaders , and tend to earn more money than their height-challenged counterparts. For black men, being tall may be less of a boon, and more of a burden. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe three studies that back up this contention. The first looked at more than one million people who were "stopped and frisked" by the New York Police Department before the program was outlawed by a judicial ruling.
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