A new study from researchers at Tufts University finds that, even when we’re not aware of it, we take cues from subtle demonstrations of race bias. In a series of four studies, which included the analysis of 11 popular prime time shows that feature black and white characters of comparable social status—including Grey’s Anatomy, House and Heroes—researchers found that small gestures and facial expressions consistently reinforced negative attitudes toward black characters, and that, until they were told expressly to look for bias, most often study participants didn’t pick up on this. As Alice Park reports for TIME:
Researchers then asked the viewers, white college students, to evaluate in each circumstance, whether the unseen character appeared to be treated positively or negatively by the seen character, and how well liked he or she appeared to be. In the end, across the majority of TV shows, viewers consistently said that the white characters had received more positive treatment and were better liked than their black counterparts.
Read Park’s full article.