Adam Waytz of Northwestern University and Kelly Marie Hoffman and Sophie Trawalter of the University of Virginia report the results of several studies on this subject in an upcoming issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science. In one experiment, white Internet users were shown a white face and a black face and asked to decide:
1) Which person “is more likely to have superhuman skin that is thick enough that it can withstand the pain of burning hot coals?”
2) Which person “is more capable of using their supernatural powers to suppress hunger and thirst?”
3) Which person “is more capable of using supernatural powers to read a person’s mind by touching the person’s head?”
4) Which person “is more capable of surviving a fall from an airplane without breaking a bone through the use of supernatural powers?”
5) Which person “has supernatural quickness that makes them capable of running faster than a fighter jet?”
6) Which person “has supernatural strength that makes them capable of lifting up a tank?”
Blacks were selected 63.5 percent of the time, significantly more than whites. The only two items that did not differ significantly were the ones about reading minds (52 percent blacks) and falling from a plane (54 percent).