First Advisor

Lee Shaker

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Communication Studies and University Honors




Voting -- United States -- Psychological aspects, Colorism -- United States, Human skin color -- Psychological aspects, Human skin color -- Political aspects, Racially mixed people




In Caruso et al. (2009), the researchers determine that if a participant liked a bi-racial (one black parent and one white parent) male candidate the participant was more inclined to prefer a photograph of him in which he appears to have a lighter complexion. Caruso et al. explain the results through the lens of a shade-based account of implicit association. This approach does not explore other possible explanations, which presented an opportunity. Therefore, this study extends the research conducted in Caruso et al. (2009) in an attempt to test for the presence or absence of inclusion motivation as a mediating influence between like or dislike of the candidate and preference for a lightened, darkened, or unaltered photograph of the candidate. To pursue this end, one of the three experiments conducted in Caruso et al. (2009) was replicated and executed using participants from a worker pool provided through This online resource matches human workers to tasks, such as taking surveys, for a small compensation. This participant pool proved unreliable, and the data gathered did not meet the burden of statistical significance. As such, this study can only make comment on some patterns observed in the data and examine areas of the research that could be improved in a future attempt. This study will also examine the significant results in the data gathered for Stern, Balcetis, Cole, West, & Caruso (2016), which were gathered using the same experiment duplicated for this research, and support the hypotheses presented in this study predicting that light skinned people who like the candidate will more often prefer the lightened photograph, and dark skinned people who like the candidate will more often prefer the darkened photograph.


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