Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type



Previous research on White American children and adults' perception of skin color inheritance found that they expect inheritable properties like skin color to have a greater range of possible outcomes compared to deterministic events like mixing two paints (Schwarzlose et al., 2021). However, it is unclear whether this generalizes to other populations. To address this gap, two studies explored this question with a non-White immigrant population of children and adults. To test individuals' skin color biases, in Study 1 children and adults from immigrant populations in the U.S. were asked to predict a biracial baby's skin color (a socially relevant physical property), a puppy's fur color (a socially irrelevant but inheritable feature), and a paint flask's color (a deterministic event). Adults made more close-to-the-midpoint predictions than children, and their prediction pattern was different for skin and fur color; children's predictions were further from the midpoint, with similar patterns for skin and fur color. Study 2 tested flexibility in accepting different skin color outcomes for a biracial baby compared with other domains (paint and fur). Younger children accepted a similar number of possible outcomes for skin and paint colors, whereas adults endorsed a larger number of possible outcomes for skin colors and a smaller number of possible outcomes for paint colors. By seven years of age, children showed adult-like predictions and understood the stochastic nature of skin color inheritance. The present study replicates the earlier findings with White Americans demonstrating their generalizability and cross-cultural validity.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Lori Markson

Committee Members

Calvin Lai Joshua Jackson