Jane Elliot's Brown Eyes vs. Blue Eyes Experiment

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Jane Elliot's classic blue eyes vs. brown eyes experiment highlights the issue of race. This lesson plan focuses on this experiment with the help of a video lesson. An activity asks students to reimagine the experiment.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • discuss the events that led up to Jane Elliot's blue eyes vs. brown eyes experiment
  • summarize the experiment
  • discuss the outcomes and legacy of Jane Elliot's experiment


45 to 90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.


  • Photocopies of the worksheet from the associated video lesson


  • Begin by writing the following term on the board for the class: 'racism'.
    • What is racism?
    • What are some examples of racist behavior?
  • Play the video lesson Group Prejudice: Jane Elliott's Brown Eyes vs. Blue Eyes Experiment for the class, pausing it at 1:05.
    • Who is Jane Elliot?
    • What events began to trouble Jane Elliot?
    • What was Elliot's goal for her students in regard to the experiment?
  • Play the video lesson for the class again, pausing it this time at 2:21.
    • How did Jane Elliot divide the class for the experiment?
    • What privileges were given to blue-eyed students?
    • How were brown-eyed students treated in the experiment?
    • How did the children's behavior change as a result of the experiment?
    • What did Jane Elliot do on the second day of the experiment?
    • What did the participants learn from the blue eye brown eye experiment?
  • Play the video lesson for the class. Pause it at 3:44.
    • How did Jane Elliot's experiment change the field of psychology?
    • What is stereotype threat?
    • How did Jane Elliot's experiment help to lay the ground work for the practice of applied social psychology?
  • Play the remainder of the video lesson for the class.
    • What is the legacy of Jane Elliot's classic blue eye vs. brown eyes experiment?
  • Pass out the paper copies of the worksheet to each of the students in the class.
  • Have students work independently to complete the worksheet using what they learned about Jane Elliot's experiment to do so.
  • When all students have finished the worksheet, review each question and answer with the class as students self-check their answers.

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