Monday, March 17, 2008

Is it more than the doll?

Class today got me thinking about the doll experiment that was presented in the YouTube clip. I was afraid this post might come off the wrong way, however I definitely think it is something to consider.

When the children were picking 'good' and 'bad' dolls, the decision was made very quickly, however when they were forced to pick the one that most resembled them, they were hesitant and it took some more time to figure out. This made me think that perhaps race is not the most prevalent issue here. It looked as though they were not picking good and bad because of the skin color of the doll. Instead I thought these children could have been picking on color of the toy alone.

Often times children are more drawn to bright colors and discouraged by dreary colors. This is often ingrained by the way we treat children as infants. We paint our children's room with light colors that we see as happy and uplifting. I've never seen a child's room painted black or dark gray or parents buy toys that are dark in color. Therefore I could see the children picking the doll because of the positive feeling that is reinforced to them, and not necessarily because of the race of the doll or because they think that black people are 'bad'.

I just feel like the fact that the children are picking toys should be taken into consideration. Perhaps the experiment would be different if they were picking a different set of objects.

4 Comments:

Blogger Ashley said...

I find myself a little embarrassed sharing this story on the blog but I remember having a very similar experience with dolls growing up. One year for Christmas Santa gave me a Cabbage Patch Doll that had darker (tanned) skin and curly brown hair with big brown eyes. I remember crying because I wanted the one that had the lighter skin and blonde hair with blue eyes. My mother kept telling me that Santa wanted me to have this doll because I looked more like her. I wasn’t buying it for a second. I dismissed the doll as bad, even though it looked like me. As I grew older though, I realized that I didn’t fit the typical Barbie standard, and it finally made sense as to why I got that doll instead of the one that was white with blonde hair. It was the first time that I was an individual, and that doll was made for a girl like me. Cabbage Patch Dolls I feel like did a better job of doing that then Barbie ever could.
I feel like a lot of dolls made back when we were younger all were the same white dolls with blonde hair. Kids need normalcy in their lives, and so by throwing something different into the mix can sometime confuse them. I think the doll experiment is a perfect example of that. How many African American children play with dolls that look like them? I’m going to say very few, if at all. This might be why many of the children identified more with the white doll being good because that is what they know from home. But I could be wrong, it was just a thought…

11:30 AM  
Blogger Katie Krengel said...

I agree with Ashley in that the experiment may be flawed because most children are brought up playing with white dolls with blonde hair. However, I believe this experiment is as close as we can get to having children identify characteristics with one race or another, whether or not they know that is what they are picking. I remember someone mentioning that we should put in real people and have the children pick between those two. The problem is that the dolls allow the only difference between the choices to be race. Obviously two live people would have many different physical features that would add more variables to the experiment. Although I am not sure the results are entirely accurate, I think the experiment has merit. Can anyone think of another experiment that would have more reliable results without adding more variables?

12:08 PM  
Blogger Stephanie Grohovsky said...

I agree with Katie that though the experiment is likely to have some flaws and some biases, it does have merit. This study has been performed several times (and within several decades) with several different facilitators and each time the results remain the same. I believe these results are undeniable and we need to look at the real reasons that the white doll was selected instead of trying to contribute it to another factor. It is extremely interesting to me that the African American children did not pick the doll that looked like them. From the study it appears that from a small age these children are influenced to think that white is "good". It makes me wonder if this plays a role in the children’s confidence and if this self-fulfilling prophecy plays some type of role in the inequality in our society.

8:03 PM  
Blogger nschutz said...

I understand your point and I definitely think it should be taken into consideration, but I do not think the color of the clothes masks out the actual color of the doll. I like the example of a children's room, but I feel like that is stretching the situation to what we hope is the reason. When I was younger, I always had the typical Barbie doll and the thing that helped me pick between two different dolls was their clothes. I am not sure if I was ever given the opportunity to select between two different race Barbie dolls, which I think would matter. This experiment is based solely on race and I think that is apparent when the Black girl does not even pick the Black doll after being asked "Who looks like you?"

11:21 PM  

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