Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Alyssa K. McGonagle

Second Advisor

Lisa Marchiando


Studies on colorism bias are prevalent, but there exists a gap in the literature regarding how this construct operates within organizational contexts (Marira & Mitra, 2013). The current research explores colorism bias in organizational hiring decisions, considering both hair type and skin tone as physical markers which influence the enactment of colorism biases; as well as investigating the mediating effect of racial identity strength and attractiveness of the applicant, and moderating effects of job type. In a quasi-experimental design, participants viewed a Black female job applicant being considered for either a blue or white collar job, with varying degrees of Afrocentricity of skin tone and hair type. Conditional analyses suggest that the relationship between both skin tone and hair type with selection decisions is fully mediated by the perceived attractiveness of Black women applicants; but perceived racial identity strength of the applicant and job type were not significant. A discussion of theoretical and practical implications of the findings, and thoughts on future directions of colorism theory, are addressed.