As a Psychology major, I have come across several studies that baffled me. A few weeks ago, in African American History class, we briefly discussed one of those studies: the Clark Doll experiment. In the 1940s, Psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark used black and white dolls to study children’s attitudes about race. In the experiment, children (ages six thru nine years old) were presented with two dolls (one white and one black) and then asked a series of questions about the dolls. Some of the questions asked were “which one is the doll they would play with?”, “which one is the nice doll?”, “which one looks bad?” and “which one has the nicer color?” The results of the experiment showed that the children preferred the white doll over the black doll.
It is now 2012 and obviously we are no longer segregated. Surely things have changed and the results of this test would be different now. Well, at least that is what I thought. Unfortunately, I was wrong. In 2005, a young filmmaker and student name Kiri Davis conducted the same experiment as the Clarks. She asked the same questions the Clarks asked in their doll experiment and she got the same results: the white doll was more popular. I cannot help but wonder why and how 65 years later, the results of this experiment have not changed. I also cannot decide who is to blame for the perpetuation of children thinking white is better than black. Should the parents be blamed because they are not instilling in their children the notion that black people are just as good as white people? Should the media be blamed because they constantly portray whites and blacks in stereotypical roles? Should society be blamed because between 1940 and 2005, we have done absolutely nothing to change the results of this doll test? When the doll test is recreated 65 years from now, how can we ensure that the results will not be the same?
Here’s a clip of a recent Black and White dolls test done by Kiri Davis in 2005: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqSFqnUFOns