Nina Clark test: black children are racists

the Nina Clark’s test reveals the harmful effects of racial stereotypes and ethnic segregation in the United States.

The Clark Girl Trial

The study teaches us about the prejudices caused by segregation and structural racism in the self-perception of children aged six to nine.

Study context

The Clark doll test was performed by Dr. Kenneth Clark. The research aimed to shed light on children’s stereotypes and self-perception linked to their ethnicity. The results of Clark’s experiment were used to confirm that racial segregation in schools could alter young people’s perceptions of African Americans, causing them to internationalize. some stereotypes that underlie xenophobic beliefs, both among white youth and, surprisingly, among black youth, Making sure that the latter also reproduce certain ideas against blacks.

The test is renowned for its relevance and social impact which he surmised, although it has been criticized that the test has no experimental guarantees. Clark pointed to the contrasts between children attending slum schools in Washington (DC) and those in integrated schools in New York.

Clark’s trial had a decisive influence on the Brown case against the American Board of Education in 1954. The investigation served to persuade the United States Supreme Court that schools “separate but equal” for blacks and whites had unfair motives and were therefore against the law. , who advocated for the inclusion and equality of children in school.


During the experiment, Clark showed African American children between the ages of six and nine two cloth dolls, one of the White skin (Which corresponded to the image of a Caucasian person) and the other of black skin (Which corresponded to a black person.

The questions were presented in this order:

  • Show me the doll you like best or the one you would like to play with.
  • Show me which doll is the “correct one”.
  • Show me the doll that looks “bad”.
  • Give me the doll that looks like a white girl.
  • Give me the doll that looks like a colored girl.
  • Give me the doll that looks like a black man.
  • Give me the doll that looks like you.


The experimenters revealed that black children chose to play with white dolls more often. When children were asked to draw a human figure with their own skin color, they usually chose a lighter complexion than their own. Children assigned more positive adjectives to the color “white,” such as beautiful and good. On the other hand, the color “black” was associated with the attributes of bad and ugly.

The last question asked by scholars was one of the most controversial. By this time, most black children had identified the black doll as “the bad one.” Of the participants, 44% noted that the white doll looked the most alike.

The researchers interpreted the results as evidence that black children internalized at a young age certain racist prejudices and stereotypes, caused by the discrimination and stigma generated by racial segregation.

Research Critics

The Clark Doll Test has been criticized for having transcended through media coverage of its influence in the US Court case, with the study noted as lacking prior theoretical depth and control for variables.

Critics say the study’s authors (Clark and his wife) commit certain prejudices when it comes to an African-American marriage, May have distorted results to victimize people of color.

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