Michelle R. sent in a segment from CNN that asks children to associate positive or negative attributes with various skin tones, much like a famous 1940s experiment that asked children which doll they preferred. The original experiment, and recreations since then, have found that children of all races tend to view lighter-skinned dolls or images more positively (prettier, smarter, more desirable as a classmate) than darker-skinned ones, and to believe that adults do so as well (sorry for the ads before each segment).

Anderson Cooper then talks to some of the children about their answers:

It’s fascinating that kids pick up on competing cultural themes and use them in their answers — that is, skin color isn’t supposed to matter and you judge people as individuals, but people still do care about skin color. And they all agree that the “good” skin color (from their own perspective or what they think adults prefer) is lighter. And to hear a girl refer to her own skin color as “nasty”…heartbreaking.

NEW! (May ’10): Alex P., Dimitriy T.M., and Abeer K. sent in a final segment, in which a parent reacts to her child’s preferences:

Related posts: another recreation, and the original study.