Do you think you have a bias for or against natural hair? Last week, the results of a study conducted by the Perception Institute and Shea Moisture showed just that. According to them, this is the first study to look at explicit and implicit attitudes about black women’s hair. The group developed an Implicit Attitude Test (IAT) to determine if participants harbor any biases about black women’s’ hair.
Harvard’s Project Implicit thoroughly describes the various aspects of an IAT is and what it can measure.
The IAT measures the strength of associations between concepts (e.g., black people, gay people) and evaluations (e.g., good, bad) or stereotypes (e.g., athletic, clumsy). The main idea is that making a response is easier when closely related items share the same response key. We would say that one has an implicit preference for straight people relative to gay people if they are faster to categorize words when Gay People and Bad share a response relative to when Gay People and Good share a response key.
The ‘Good Hair’ Study surveyed 4,13 men and women, including 688 naturalistas (women found in an online natural hair community), to determine if they have a subconscious bias for or against natural hair. The majority of people surveyed showed an implicit bias against black women’s textured hair. Personally, I don’t find this surprising.
- Black women who are part of an online natural hair community are more likely to show a preference for black women’s textured hair.
- Black women in the natural hair community have significantly more positive attitudes toward textured hair than other women, including black women in the national sample.
- Millennial naturalistas have more positive attitudes toward textured hair than all other women.
- Black women perceive a level of social stigma against textured hair, and this perception is substantiated by white women’s devaluation of natural hairstyles.
Natural hair is still seen as unacceptable and stigmatized in many communities and areas of life. From the military to the office and even at school, we are still looking for safe spaces to wear our hair freely. I’m curious what the results would be if they were conducted in Nigeria and other regions in Africa. I doubt that they will be very different. What do you think?
I took the test and here are my results. It turns out that I’m pretty neutral.
Are you interested in taking the test? You can do it here. It takes about 10 minutes. I’m curious to know what your results are. Let me know in the comments. 🙂