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August 11th, 2010
04:41 PM ET

Kids on Race: Doll Study revisited

AC360°

Program Note: In May, some parents were shocked by what their children really thought about race. So now, what are they doing about it? All this week, “AC360°” revisits the doll study to see how children view race. Don’t miss “Black or White, Kids on Race,” all this week at 10 p.m. ET on CNN.

Kids on Race Part 1

Kids on Race Part 2

AC360° Results
The goal of the CNN Study was to determine the status of children’s racial beliefs,
attitudes and preferences as well as skin tones biases at two different developmental periods. Read our findings here.


1947 Original Doll Test

Read the original Doll Study here


Filed under: 360° Radar • Race in America
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Daisy

    Annie Kate- that is a great point. Maybe your daughter just shed some light on this study. All studies are flawed & I hope the folks doing the research will read your comment.

    August 11, 2010 at 9:32 am |
  2. zacarias

    I agree with the two other comments. It seems to me that the nature of the tests is a bit short sighted. The tests ask the children which one is the dumbest. To begin I think asking another child which child is "dumb" in and of itself is ignorant.
    Maybe a child is slower or not as intelligent but to call a child "dumb" is not right. Second, children are inherently trusting so they trust that the tester is giving them the only options; in essence the tester is tricking the kids, they don't even give them the option of saying that "I can't give you an answer based on the information" (i.e. sort of like giving a kid a multiply choose question without any of the right answers as a choice). I was more disturbed by the test then the children’s answers.

    August 11, 2010 at 6:06 am |
  3. Maria

    It all starts in the home. What a teacher. She has never exposed her child to different races. Her child takes after the parents. I seen how she felt nervous when questioned. She knows she's wrong.

    August 11, 2010 at 3:14 am |
  4. J.F. Girard Rooks, M.D. (retired psychiatrist)

    Problems with the racially colored figure study:
    1. The extreme colors were always at the ends of the line.
    2. The color intensity always increased gradually from left to right.
    3. The only variable was the color.
    4. The questions were "leading questions".
    5. Based on the above, the child could have felt challenged to find the "dumb", "ugly", or "bad" figure, having been told that there was one, and have selected based on the child's presumption of the questioner's bias regarding color.

    Possible corrective changes:
    1. Randomly re-arrange the color sequence after each question. A computer could do this.
    2. Have other variables, so that a child could have options other than being required to respond to color only.
    3. Ask non-leading questions: "How are they different? Are there prettier ones? Are there a smarter ones? Are any of them good or bad?" Then, asking what led to that opinion could be asked.
    4. Have the child's response hidden from the interviewer, or have the whole test be done by a "speaking" computer with a touch sensitive screen and voice recognition.

    August 11, 2010 at 2:14 am |
  5. Jeremy

    This study forces kids to be racist because the only difference in the pictures is skin color. It's the only characteristic kids have to base their answer on. If more stereotypical characteristics of intelligence were given to the children to choose from, such as clothing or glasses, I bet the results would show significantly less racism.

    August 11, 2010 at 2:02 am |
  6. malcolm

    Anderson, again I must remind you to look to see how many dark skinned african americans are on cnn, in front of the camera. The kids are merely reflecting what they see in society. Set the example...

    August 10, 2010 at 10:47 pm |
  7. Sara

    Annie I think you made a valuable point.

    August 10, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
  8. NetNow

    It would be interesting to see if the responses changed if posed by a black teacher, rather that a white teacher. The children may think that their more truthful response would hurt the teacher's feelings.

    August 10, 2010 at 9:52 pm |
  9. read the study

    READ THE ACTUAL STUDY. GO THROUGH THE NUMBERS. Contrary to what the article and AC360 says, there is no "overwhelming bias" shown by the white children. Especially when looking at the mid age (i.e. not pre-k or K) group. When asked to identify the "bad" child, 11 white kids in the older group (out of a sample of 29, or 37 percent) refused to even answer the question, saying that none of them were bad. By comparison, only 7 black children (out of a sample of 39 or 18 percent) refused to answer the question. Similarly, when asked to identify the "nice" child, 12 white kids (41 percent) refused to answer, stating that they all could be nice, while only 5 black kids (12 percent) refused to answer. When asked who would they "like to be friends with", 11 out of 29 (38 percent) of the white kids refused to answer saying that they could be friends with any of them, while only 6 out of 39 black kids (15 percent) gave a similar answer. Why isn't it more of a concern that the white children were able to make these race neutral observations at a much higher rate than the black children in the study? If you take into account these race neutral answers, the white kids are actually less, not more, racially biased than the black children. But the story makes it seem as if the study shows white kids are racially biased, when the numbers suggest the opposite. Why isn't that part of the story?

    August 10, 2010 at 9:24 pm |
  10. Aquadave

    I am fascinated by this study and wonder if you someone can apply this to other subjects as well. Like taking a stuffed dog with 5 different shades or a stuffed bear. I would not be surprised if the findings would be similar. Is it simply possible that we see light colored objects in the same way?

    August 10, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  11. Annie Kate

    I remember this story – my youngest child watched it with me. She had an alternate theory about why it seemed the children were picking by race. She said if she was asked which was the child to be the dumb or mean or troublesome child, she would be sure to pick one that looked completely unlike her so as not to put ideas in the teachers head.

    I don't doubt racial attitudes drove a lot of the answers but I don't think that was all it was. With surveys you can make the results look just about anyway you want to....its all in how you do the statistics and how your interview is constructed.

    August 10, 2010 at 5:01 pm |