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The Tan Bias: Perceptions of Tan and Non-tan Caucasian Faces

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Objectives: There is limited knowledge of perceptions of tan individuals along dimensions other than attractiveness. The purpose of this study was to examine perceptions of tan and non-tan women and men (who are often not studied) on several different traits. Methods: Undergraduate students (N = 120; Mage = 20.01 years) viewed photographs of 10 men and 10 women, and answered 6 questions about each photograph including the target's physical attractiveness, health, physical fitness, friendliness, intelligence, and popularity. Results: Tan faces were perceived more positively than non-tan faces on the composite measure of all dimensions, as well as on all individual dimensions except intelligence. Conclusions: These results support the “what is beautiful is good” hypothesis and may have important implications for health behaviors and stereotyping.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Division of Social Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, Abington, PA, USA

Publication date: November 1, 2014

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  • Health Behavior and Policy Review is a rigorously peer-reviewed scholarly bi-monthly publication that seeks manuscripts on health behavior or policy topics that represent original research, including papers that examine the development, advocacy, implementation, or evaluation of policies around specific health issues. The Review especially welcomes papers that tie together health behavior and policy recommendations. Articles are available through subscription or can be ordered individually from the Health Behavior and Policy Review site.
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