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The Hraba and Grant Page



Below is a very brief summary of the Hraba and Grant study.  You will need to use the more detailed summary here to revise for the exam.

You can also find all of the past exam questions on Hraba and Grant's study here.   

Joseph Hraba's home page is here.

The original of the early research carried out by the Clarks can be found here on the Classics in Psychology web site.



Joseph Hraba


The aim of the experiment was to replicate Clark & Clark’s study to re-examine the racial preferences of children in an interracial setting.

The 160 participants aged between four and eight years all attended primary schools in Lincoln, Nebraska.  89 of the children were Black (60% of the Black children attending school in Lincoln).   71 of the children were White.  These children were randomly selected from the classrooms containing black respondents.

As Hraba & Grant’s experiment was a replication of Clark & Clark (1947), they followed the same procedures as far as possible.  

The children were interviewed individually using a set of four dolls:  two Black and two White, but identical in all other respects.  The children were asked the same questions used by the Clarks. They were as follows:

Questions Asked What it Measured


(1) Give me the doll that you want to play with  
(2) Give me the doll that is a nice doll



(3) Give me the doll that looks bad
(4) Give me the doll that is a nice colour

(5) Give me the doll that looks like a white child


Awareness or

(6) Give me the doll that looks like a coloured child


(7) Give me the doll that looks like a Negro child

(8) Give me the doll that looks like you

Racial Self-identification

Hraba & Grant also asked the children and their teachers to name the race of the child’s best friends to assess the behavioural consequences of racial preference and identification.

When measuring racial preference, Hraba and Grant found that Black children and White children preferred the doll of their own ‘race’.   The earlier studies by the Clarks had found that Black children had preferred White dolls.

When measuring racial awareness and self identification Hraba & Grant obtained similar results to those of Clark & Clarks. The children made very few errors.  

They also found that the race of the interviewer had no effect on the choices of either the Black or the White children and that there was no relationship between race of friends for both Black and White children on their doll preference.

Hraba & Grant give a number of explanations for why their results in 1969 are very different from the doll choices in 1939.

Firstly it is likely that Black children in 1969 were more proud of their race than they were in 1939.

Secondly it is possible that children in Lincoln, unlike those in the cities, might have chosen Black dolls in 1939.  Obviously this explanation can not be examined further.

Thirdly, the growth of organisations in the Black community might have enhanced Black pride.  During the periods 1967-1969 a black pride campaign, sponsored by organisations which were black conscious was aimed at adolescents and young adults in Lincoln.  Black children through their interactions with kin and friends may have modelled these attitudes.  

Fourthly, inter-racial contact such as in nursery or school might create Black pride.