A Cross-Species Examination of Pro-White Color Bias Using a Novel Implicit Association Test

Document Type


Publication Date



There is abundant evidence for pro-White color bias across the social psychology literature. In human–animal interaction work, black dog syndrome (BDS) refers to preference toward lighter-colored dogs over black dogs, leading to differences in rates of euthanasia and adoption. BDS has received mixed support in prior studies. Results from studies examining explicit color preference toward animals are also inconsistent. Numerous studies report strong support for implicit pro-White bias toward humans, but no studies have examined implicit pro-White bias toward animals. Thus, the primary aim of the current research was to test for implicit pro-White bias across various stimuli and species, using both novel and well-established Implicit Association Tests (IATs). In study 1 (n = 127) and study 2 (n = 141), IATs assessed pro-White bias across five different stimuli: objects, rabbits, dogs, skin tone, and race, using data collected from college students. Participants were categorized into three groups based on race and ethnicity (non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, and all other racial/ethnic participants). In both studies, there was evidence of pro-White bias across all five IATs. However, both studies also revealed significant racial differences. In both studies, pro-White bias was significant among White and other racial/ethnic participants but not among Black participants. Racial/ethnic differences were also found in prevalence of pet ownership and attitudes toward pets, but neither ownership nor attitudes were significantly associated with pro-White bias. Results from this study provide indirect support for BDS, in that individuals showed an implicit bias toward White dogs, although this bias is not present among Black individuals.

Publication Title


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)