Get access

The Hidden Prejudice in Selection: A Research Investigation on Skin Color Bias


Matthew S. Harrison, PhD, 6205 Peachtree Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, GA 30328. E-mail:


In this era of affirmative action, racial discrimination in the workplace has been studied widely. A common negligence of these studies is that they disregard the subject of skin-tone stratification, and present an analysis of discrimination based on treatment of Blacks and Whites (both as collective units); thereby overlooking a prevalent issue that has long existed in western culture—colorism. This study examined the influence of colorism on job selection, and discovered a significant preferential difference among Black applicants based on their skin complexion. The findings suggest that skin tone plays a considerable role in the favorability of a Black applicant; indicating that skin color is more salient and regarded more highly than one's educational background and prior work experience.