A dart in the evolving science of perception and race: a new study suggests that self-described partisanship influences how a candidate with biracial skin tone is evaluated. The biracial candidate in question, of course, is Barack Obama. In a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that self-described liberals looked at artificially lightened photographs of President Barack Obama and judged them as more representative of his actual likeness, while self-described conservative students more often chose artificially darkened photos of Obama.
First, researchers showed students a picture of a biracial man. They were told that the person was a candidate for a government job. Some in the group were told that the man supported their views; others weren't. Those who were told that the person supported their views were more likely to judge a lightened version of the person as more representative of the person's actual likeness. Those who were not rated a darkened photograph as more representative. "The more people considered the lighter versions of the candidate as representative of him, the stronger their stated intentions of voting for him."