Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Jane M. Berry

Second Advisor

Dr. Scott T. Allison

Third Advisor

Dr. Catherine L. Bagwell


Divergent African American skin tones have led to negative stereotypes and outcomes regarding darker-skinned African Americans in many domains, including educational and occupational (Hill, 2002). This study assessed the effects of skin tone and stereotype threat (Steele and Aronson, 1995; Steele, 1997) on cognition in younger and older African Americans. A 2(Skin Tone: light, dark) X 2(Age: young, old) X 2(Stereotype Threat: Threat, Non-Threat) between subjects design was used. Seventy-four African American adults ranging in age from 18 to 86 years completed a battery of cognitive measures. Darker-skinned adults performed more poorly on three tests of intelligence, a paired-associates memory task, and intellectual self-efficacy. These main effects were qualified by two-way interactions involving skin tone and age, and skin tone and stereotype threat. The implications of African American skin tone effects on cognitive functioning are discussed.

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