Mamie Phipps Clark

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Mamie Phipps Clark

Mamie Phipps Clark


In the 1930s, psychologist Kenneth Clark and his wife, Mamie Phipps Clark, investigated the psychological effects of segregation on black students, especially related to self-image. Kenneth was born in Panama moved to Harlem, a poor neighborhood of the city of New York, to five years of age, having to face on many occasions in his life the effects of segregation in his country.

The couple made many surveys together, becoming the first black couple to complete his doctorate in psychology from Columbia University in New York. Created what became known as the "doll test" in which dolls were used four appearances all identical except for skin color, ranging from white to dark brown. The couple worked with children between three and seven years old. Children demonstrated an undeniable awareness of race to correctly identify the dolls by skin color, and also identified themselves indicating dolls that looked like them more (History of Psychology, 2002).

In order to investigate the children's attitude toward race, the Clark asked each child to point out that the doll liked or you'd like to play, which had a beautiful color, and what was ugly. The result was worrisome because black children showed a preference for white dolls and black rejected - attitude understood by psychologists as an indirect self rejection. The researchers were convinced that this was a reflection of the tendency of children to absorb the racial prejudices of society and then internalize the hatred and then formulated an important question: "Who teaches children to hate and fear someone of another race."

The test whose results contributed to change segregation in American schools and contributed to abolish inferiority affecting their self-esteem, was to display two white and two black dolls, asking that they give dolls to certain characteristics, such as "Beautiful", "good" and "bad." Both in 1939 and then in 1950, a majority of children, both black and the white, attributed the characteristics of "good" and "beautiful" and set the white dolls as "bad" the black dolls.


In natural contact with different toys, including through "baby whiners" with which children identify, recognize that they are beautiful, that are both standards of the child beauty white, black or as a result of various mixtures. Diversity is in this sense, a way of understanding the country, in all these different segments; they all have value and importance (Harvard University, 2002).

The couple of psychologists sought to understand what influenced the bias and concluded that, as they learn to assess racial differences in accordance with the values ??of society, children are taken to identify with a certain group, and each group has a racial " status "implicit within the hierarchy. Black children who had chosen a white doll show be aware that American society (venue of the research) and preferred white people who had internalized the thought. Children with only three years of age expressed attitudes similar to those of adults in their community.

The researchers concluded that these attitudes are determined by a combination of influences ...
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