Reading a news story about a crime perpetrated by foreigners can make the faces of dark-skinned individuals more threatening, writes Florian Arendt, of University of Munich. He came to the conclusion after conducting experiments on 105 students.
The participants read crime stories in which the foreignity, although not skin color of the criminals was mentioned. After that they were shown computer generated facial images of both dark and light skinned people. When the facial expressions were ambiguous in nature, images of dark skinned individuals were more commonly than those of light skinned individuals interpreted as threatening. These evaluations are made in a split-second and can thus be difficult to prevent, albeit they can be consciously corrected afterwords, the author notes.
The findings were published in an online-first article of the journal Communication Research. The article can be accessed online here (abstract public).
Edited on 14.1.2015: Stock photo added.