Holtzman (1973) found that medium brown respondents had the highest percentage scoring in
the two upper points of two scales measuring competence and political efficacy.
In this paper, I have briefly reviewed the literature concerning two possible mechanisms,
preference/dislike and stereotyping, by which skin tone bias may be expressed.
investigating the connection between skin tone bias and two outcomes, resource attainment and
psychological and social functioning, were explored.
This review reveals several aspects of skin
tone bias in need of further empirical research.
The literature for resource attainment and psychological functioning indicates many
effects of skin tone bias common to both men and women.
A dominant theme of a stronger
impact of skin tone bias for women compared to men, however, has also been evident (Bond &
Cash, 1992; Keith & Herring, 1991; Hughes & Hertel, 1990; Drake & Cayton, 1945; Marks,
Women have been shown to be more detrimentally affected by skin tone bias than men.
Some theories regarding this gender difference have been constructed (Boyd-Franklin, 1991;
Keith & Herring, 1991; Neal & Wilson, 1989; Drake & Cayton, 1945), but systematic
investigation of these theories has been rare.
Second, skin tone has been largely conceived as a status which stratifies individuals in
the African American community and regulates the distribution of scarce resources.
theoretical approach has proved a useful tool for understanding skin tone bias at the societal
It does not address, however, the phenomenological experience of skin tone bias for the
A strict status approach portrays the individual as buffeted by uncontrollable forces,
without accounting for the possible coping styles, resulting from socialization messages and
accumulated experience, which may affect vulnerability to skin tone bias.
With few exceptions