Thesis Title

Perceptions of Beauty Among Young Children in a Multicultural Society

Graduation Date

Spring 2002

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


The present study investigated the perceptions of beauty among preschool and kindergarten children in Foster City and San Mateo. It has been found repeatedly in early research that children become aware of racial differences at approximately three years of age. They learn by that age that people come in different sizes, colors, and genders. They begin to develop racial self- identity at approximately three to four years. At that time, they also develop racial preferences. In order to examine whether there continues to be a preference for “White” among children growing up in the diversity of the Bay Area, this study replicated research employing the Clark Doll Test (Clark & Clark, 1947). To represent current racial diversity, children were presented with four Barbie dolls representing the four main ethnic groups in the Bay Area: Caucasian, Hispanic, African- American, and Asian. Since it has not been empirically proven that racial preference reflects self- concept or self- esteem of children, the focus of this work was on beauty preferences of children ages three to six years without making any assumptions about racial awareness, identification, or self- esteem of any particular ethnic group. The doll choice task was to give the examiner the “prettiest doll.” This study illustrates a preference for the Caucasian, blonde, and blue- eyed beauty among minority and Caucasian preschool and kindergarten children.