Media analysts have argued that a major factor in Barack Obama’s
political success is his nonthreatening demeanor, to counteract the
stereotype of the threatening black man. Researchers wondered if there
might be a similar counter-stereotypical pattern for black CEOs, even
on a purely visual level. They asked people to rate pictures of CEOs
for baby-facedness, warmth, and competence. Relative to white CEOs,
black CEOs were rated as more baby-faced – and, consistent with prior
research on baby-faced stereotypes, seen as warmer and less competent.
For blacks, being baby-faced meant earning more money, the study found,
whereas white CEOs earned less money if they were baby-faced. According
to the authors, this confirms that blacks need “disarming mechanisms”
to be successful in corporate America.
Here is the link, which reports some other interesting (and separate) results. The core source is Livingston, R. & Pearce, N., “The Teddy-Bear Effect: Does
Having a Baby Face Benefit Black Chief Executive Officers?”
Psychological Science (October 2009). Here are some photos and charts.