Stories about black women whose employers asked them to cut their dreadlocks or to trim their big afros have surfaced with more frequency in the last few years. Now a new study confirms that many people —including black ones— have a bias against the types and styles of natural hair worn by black people.
The "Good Hair Study" was conducted by Perception Institute, which describes itself as "a consortium of researchers, advocates and strategists" that uses emotional and psychological research to identify and reduce bias in areas such as law enforcement, education, civil justice and the workplace. The study resulted from a partnership with Shea Moisture, a black-owned hair and body products company, and aimed to better understand the connection between implicit bias and textured hair.
The "Good Hair Study" asked over 4,000 participants to take an online IAT, orimplicit association test, which involves rapidly-changing photos of black women with smooth and natural hair, and rotating word associations with both. According to the study, "a majority of people, regardless of race and gender, hold some bias towards women of color based on their hair." But the results also indicate that this bias islearned behavior, and can be unlearned.