Almost instantly, the brown-eyed children began to wither. Their second-class citizenship, just hours old, had begun to affect their performance in class. And the blue-eyed students reveled in their privileged status. "I felt like I was a king," one of the blue-eyed boys said, "like I ruled them brown-eyes. Like I was better than them. Happy."
Contrast that with the despair of a brown-eyed student: "The way they treated you, it felt like you didn't even want to try to do anything."
The next day, Elliott told her students she'd been mistaken, that brown-eyed students were better, smarter. And the students who had been discriminated against the day before adopted the attitudes of the oppressor. When they were the lower class, the brown-eyed children struggled for more than five minutes to get through a flash-card exercise; when they were on top, they whizzed through the cards in under three minutes. "The only thing that had changed was that now, they were superior people," Elliott said on the tape.