Monday, May 20, 2013
White Americans are more likely to see anger in the facial expressions of Barack Obama than non-white Americans are, according to a study from the University of Arkansas
The study showed more than 100 participants – who identified as white, black, native American and Asian – a silent video of Obama's 2010 White House Correspondents Dinner speech and asked them to describe how they thought Obama was feeling based on his facial expressions. White participants were slightly more likely to assign anger to Obama, rating both his smiles and neutral displays as seven points higher on average than non-white participants out of a potential 100 points. University of Arkansas assistant professor Patrick Stewart, who co-authored the study, says that the findings weren't surprising to him. "One of the things that literature out there suggests is we are much better at decoding people within our own ethnicity and their facial displays," he says. "I wouldn't use a term like racism because all groups are 'ingroup focused,'" meaning that they favor the social group with which they identify.