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Skin Color Plays a Role in Craigslist Transactions, Study Says

african american using a mouseTransactions on Craigslist might begin anonymously, with both users safely shielded by the warm comfort of their computer screens, but when it comes time to actually make the deal, human contact -- and the anxiety it entails -- invariably come into the equation. You may do your best to sniff out the person on the other end of the deal -- and try your hardest to convince them that you're not a serial killer. But, according to one study, skin color is a factor that online shoppers seriously take into consideration.

In order to get to the bottom of the impact race has on online transactions, Stanford's Jennifer Doleac and Luke Stein recently conducted an experiment in which they posted ads for various iPod Nanos on online classified ads sites. In some photos, the hand holding the Nano was white, and in others, it was black or tattooed. As AOL News reports, African-American sellers, on average, received 13-percent fewer responses from prospective buyers than their white-handed counterparts, and 17-percent fewer offers in general. When they did receive an offer, black vendors got anywhere from 2- to 4-percent less money than whites. Buyers were also 17-percent less likely to disclose their personal information to black sellers.

Once the bids rolled in, Doleac and Stein threw the buyers a curveball by claiming that the seller would be out of town while requesting to send the iPod via mail. Once again, blacks received significantly less positive feedback than whites. Buyers were 44-percent less likely to agree to the long-distance deal, and 56-percent more likely to express concern over it. Geographically, African-American users have less success in so-called 'thin' markets where they don't face a lot of competition, and did comparatively better in more heavily populated regions. In general, though, both black and tattooed sellers fared significantly worse than white users -- including urban areas.

Even in a post-November 2008 world, most of us are fully aware that we still live in a society that's far from hand-holding unity. Sure, buying something on Craigslist is an inherently risky venture, as we've seen with the tragic deaths that have resulted from interactions on the site, but it's still unsettling that a substantial slice of the online population still associates "untrustworthy" with "black." Racial prejudice certainly isn't anything new, but even across the ethnicity-erasing barriers of the Internet, it still rears its ugly, divisive head. [From: AOL News]

Tags: auctions, craigslist, internet, race, racism, research, sociology, top