Black, Magic?

Matthew Hutson flags quite the study:

Adam Waytz of Northwestern University and Kelly Marie Hoffman and Sophie Trawalter of the University of Virginia report the results of several studies on this subject in an upcoming issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science. In one experiment, white Internet users were shown a white face and a black face and asked to decide:

1) Which person “is more likely to have superhuman skin that is thick enough that it can withstand the pain of burning hot coals?” …

5) Which person “has supernatural quickness that makes them capable of running faster than a fighter jet?”

6) Which person “has supernatural strength that makes them capable of lifting up a tank?”

Blacks were selected 63.5 percent of the time, significantly more than whites. The only two items that did not differ significantly were the ones about reading minds (52 percent blacks) and falling from a plane (54 percent).

Jesse Singal considers the implications:

While most people are familiar with the idea of seeing different ethnic or religious groups as subhuman, the researchers write that “the phenomenon of superhumanization has received virtually no empirical attention in psychology.” So what should we make of the fact that white people appear to “implicitly and explicitly superhumanize” black people? The authors state that more work is needed, but they suggest that superhumanization bias could help explain why black patients are undertreated for pain, for example, or why “people consider Black juveniles to be more ‘adult’ than White juveniles when judging culpability.”