Scientists change Obama’s skin color to make white people support conservative politics

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In a paper Robb Willer and colleagues recently published, they put forth the possibility that racial bias may be at least in part what is drawing people to conservative movements like the Tea Party.

One thing Willer and team did in their study was alter photos of Obama to make his skin look lighter in some photos and darker in others and then show them to the subjects. They found that the 255 white subjects who saw the photo of Obama with darker-colored skin were twice as likely to say they supported the Tea Party movement.


This study lends strength to the idea that it is as least possible that racial bias is playing a part in current US politics.

Willer is not the only one to think this way either. Psychologist Michael Tesler found that white voters were more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton or John Kerry than Obama even though they have such similar ideology. This has led Tesler to conclude that that this could be due to racial bias. The fact that conservatives used ads in which Obama’s skin had been darkened and it seemed to work to turn people against him only makes this seem more likely.

With all of the studies being done and with several respected researchers leading the charge, we are learning more and more about ourselves and why we vote the way we do.