Skin Tone and Individuals' Perceptions of Commonality and Competition with Other Racial and Ethnic Groups Academic Article uri icon


  • 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Previous research has shown that skin tone influences how individuals perceive themselves and others. There is considerable variation in skin tone between and among whites, Latinos, and blacks, and considering the role of skin tone in shaping racial attitudes is potentially important. In this paper, we explore the effects of skin tone on perceptions of commonality and competition among whites, blacks, and Latinos. Simply, does skin tone shape how whites, blacks, and Latinos view each other? Using data from the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, we explore the effects of individual self-perceptions of skin tone on racial attitudes. We find that skin tone has an effect only on blacks perceptions of Hispanics; light-skinned blacks are less likely to perceive commonality and more likely to perceive employment competition with Latinos, relative to blacks with darker skin tones. We also find some evidence to suggest that the effect of skin tone on blacks perceptions of commonality with Latinos is moderated by education.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Wilkinson, B. C., Garand, J. C., & Dunaway, J.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Wilkinson, Betina Cutaia||Garand, James C||Dunaway, Johanna

publication date

  • September 2015