Bad impression

Kevin Lewis

October 04, 2018

Misogynistic peers, masculinity, and bystander intervention for sexual aggression: Is it really just “locker‐room talk?”
Ruschelle Leone & Dominic Parrott
Aggressive Behavior, forthcoming


The present study utilized a laboratory paradigm to examine the extent to which bystander behavior for sexual aggression is independently and jointly influenced by situational misogynistic peer norms and men's adherence to hegemonic male norms. Participants were a racially diverse college sample of self‐identified heterosexual men (N = 104) between the ages of 18–35. Men completed a measure of hegemonic masculinity and engaged in a laboratory paradigm in which they and three male confederates watched a female confederate, who reported a strong dislike of sexual content in the media, view a sexually explicit film which they could stop at any time. Prior to the woman viewing the film, participants were randomly assigned to a peer norm manipulation wherein the male confederates set a misogynistic or ambiguous norm. Results indicated the presence of a misogynistic peer norm decreased the likelihood and speed of intervention. Among men exposed to misogynistic, compared to ambiguous, peer norms, men who strongly endorsed the status male role norm were less likely to display prosocial bystander behavior. Findings indicate that exposure to peers who sexually objectify and disrespect women decreases prosocial bystander intervention. Further, these findings provide evidence that misogynistic peer norms heighten men's adherence to a hegemonic masculinity that men should attain social status, thereby deterring bystander behavior for sexual aggression.

Which group to credit (and blame)? Whites make attributions about White-minority biracials’ successes and failures based on their own (anti-)egalitarianism and ethnic identification
Kaylene McClanahan, Arnold Ho & Nour Kteily
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming


Individuals’ perceptions of biracials can vary based on the motives of the perceiver. Here, we examine how two factors — perceivers’ group-level identification motives and their system-level beliefs about the desirability of hierarchy (i.e., social dominance orientation) — predict the degree to which they attribute a biracial target’s successes or failures to that target’s White versus minority background. Across three studies examining different contexts, more anti-egalitarian White participants and more highly identified White participants rated a half-White, half-minority target as being shaped more by his minority (vs. White) background when he was disreputable (vs. reputable) — patterns broadly consistent with prior theorizing on the motivations to maintain social stratification and protect ingroup standing, respectively. In direct contrast, however, egalitarian White participants and White participants low on ethnic identification credited a target’s outgroup minority background when he was reputable (vs. disreputable), consistent with a desire to promote social equality and forgoing the opportunity to “bask in reflected glory” on behalf of the ingroup. Our results extend extant theorizing by underlining the benefits of jointly considering both group- and system-level motives when analyzing perceptions and attributions of individuals and groups, and by shedding new light on the understudied psychology of social egalitarians.

Jerkies, tacos, and burgers: Subjective socioeconomic status and meat preference
Eugene Chan & Natalina Zlatevska
Appetite, forthcoming


In mankind's evolutionary past, those who consumed meat were strong and powerful and thus man saw meat as indicative of social status. This symbolic connection between meat and status persists today. Thus, based upon psychological theories of compensation, individuals low on subjective socioeconomic status (SES) should have a greater preference for meat, as meat may be substitutable for the status that they lack. Three experiments tested this premise. Participants who felt low on subjective SES preferred meat-based foods compared to participants who felt high on it (Experiment 1). The effect is driven by a desire for status (Experiments 2–3) and not by felt hunger or power (Experiments 1–2) and not generalizable to plant foods (Experiment 3). The results suggest a symbolic link between meat and status, which has intriguingly not yet been empirically shown, and we also demonstrate a consequence of the link for food preference. The results may be of use for doctors who advise eating less meat to improve physical health and for environmental advocates who argue that meat consumption exacerbates global warming. We will also discuss the contributions of and further avenues based on our work.

Gendered Packaging of a STEM Toy Influences Children's Play, Mechanical Learning, and Mothers’ Play Guidance
Emily Coyle & Lynn Liben
Child Development, forthcoming


To study effects of the gender‐packaging of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) toys, mother–child dyads (31 daughters; 30 sons; M = 5.2 years) were randomly assigned to play with a mechanical toy packaged for girls (GoldieBlox) or boys (BobbyBlox). When familiarizing themselves with the toy to prepare for play, mothers given BobbyBlox built more with toy pieces than did mothers given GoldieBlox. During dyadic play, mothers with sons built more; mothers with daughters read the toy's narrative instructions more. Children's independent play likewise varied with game packaging. Girls learned the mechanical belt‐drive principle better from playing with BobbyBlox; boys learned the principle better from playing with GoldieBlox. Implications for gender‐schema theories, STEM interventions, and toy marketing are discussed.

Invisible middle-class Black space: Asymmetrical person and space stereotyping at the race–class nexus
Courtney Bonam, Caitlyn Yantis & Valerie Jones Taylor
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming


In addition to racial stereotypes about people (e.g., Black people are poor), perceivers hold parallel racial stereotypes about physical spaces (e.g., Black spaces are impoverished; Bonam, Bergsieker, & Eberhardt, 2016). Three studies extend these findings, showing that (a) Whites describe Black space as impoverished and undesirable, but describe White space as affluent and desirable, and (b) this racially polarized stereotype content is heightened for spaces compared to people (Studies 1 & 2). Perceivers are accordingly more likely to racially stereotype spaces than people (Study 3). This asymmetry in racial stereotype application is exacerbated when targets are objectively middle class versus lower class, likely because Whites have more difficulty incorporating counterstereotypic information into perceptions of Black spaces — compared to perceptions of Black people, White people, and White spaces (Study 3). Finally, we provide and discuss evidence for potential consequences of invisible middle-class Black space, relating to residential segregation and the racial wealth gap.

What Race Is Lacey? Intersecting Perceptions of Racial Minority Status and Social Class
Rose Barlow & Joanna Lahey
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Methods: Student volunteers rate the perceived race and SES of first names. We use a logit model to analyze the data.

Results: Participants are four times as likely to say a “White” name is Black when they perceive the mother as uneducated, compared to highly educated. While most raters accurately predict a name's race, a substantial minority of college students believe that names given by low‐SES White parents are Black names.

Who is a Terrorist? Ethnicity, Group Affiliation, and Understandings of Political Violence
Vito D’Orazio & Idean Salehyan
International Interactions, November/December 2018, Pages 1017-1039


What does the American public label as “terrorism?” How do people think about the factors motivating violence, and in turn, the policies that are favored? Using ingroup and outgroup dynamics, we argue that the terrorist label is more readily applied to Arab-Americans than Whites, and to members of militant groups. Moreover, people attribute different motives to violence committed by Arabs versus Whites, and favor different policies in response. We conducted an experiment where we randomly assigned one of six stories about a failed armed attack, each with a different combination of ethnicity and group affiliation. We find that an Arab ethnicity and Islamist group affiliation increase the likelihood of labeling an act as terrorism. Attacks by Whites and members of a White supremacist group are less likely to be labeled terrorism. Rather, Whites are more likely to be called “mass shooters.” Despite never discussing motive, Arab-American attackers are more likely to be ascribed political or religious motives, while White suspects are more likely to be seen as mentally ill. Lastly, an Arab ethnicity increases support for counterterrorism policies and decreases support for mental health care.

Simply Insane? Attributing Terrorism to Mental Illness (Versus Ideology) Affects Mental Representations of Race
Jonas Kunst, Lisa Myhren & Ivuoma Onyeador
Criminal Justice and Behavior, forthcoming


Mainstream media and public figures are often criticized for readily attributing terrorism committed by White perpetrators to mental illness, while attributing the same behavior committed by non-Whites to ideological motivation. Using a data-driven reverse-correlation approach, we show that attributing terrorism to mental illness results in a phenotypically more White mental representation of the perpetrator as compared with attributing terrorism to ideology or providing no information about its motivation. Importantly, we show that, because terrorists who are described as being motivated by mental illness are perceived as more White than those motivated by ideology, they are subsequently judged as less guilty for alleged terrorist activities. We present further evidence that this effect may be due to perceived Whiteness signaling higher socio-economic status, which reduces perceptions of culpability. In sum, our research demonstrates that extreme violence attributed to unintentional causes is perceptually associated with White perpetrators, leading to leniency in criminal judgments.

Group cohesion benefits individuals who express prejudice, but harms their group
Daniel Effron, Hemant Kakkar & Eric Knowles
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2018, Pages 239-251


When someone expresses prejudice against an outgroup, how negatively do we judge the prejudiced individual and his or her ingroup? Previous lines of research suggest that the answer depends on the ingroup's entitativity — i.e., how cohesive it is — but they make different predictions about whether entitativity should increase or decrease outside observers' negative reactions to prejudice. We resolve this tension by demonstrating divergent consequences of entitativity for prejudiced individuals versus their groups. Mediational and experimental data from six studies (two pre-registered; N = 2455) support two hypotheses: Entitativity increases how responsible the group seems for its member's prejudice, which in turn decreases how unacceptable observers find the member's behavior and how much they condemn her (H1), but which also increases how much they condemn the group (H2). Thus, entitativity can grant individuals a license to express prejudice but can damage their group's reputation.

Room for Improvement: Girls’ and Boys’ Home Environments are Still Gendered
David MacPhee & Sarah Prendergast
Sex Roles, forthcoming


Decades ago, Rheingold and Cook (1975) observed marked gender-typing of preschool children’s playthings and room furnishings. Our purpose was to determine whether this form of implicit gender socialization has been altered by cultural shifts toward more egalitarian attitudes. We also examined potential predictors of children’s room contents, including parents’ self-perceived gender-stereotypical personality traits (i.e., expressivity and instrumentality), sibling composition, and preschool experience as a proxy for exposure to peer pressure to conform to gender norms. In-depth cataloging of 75 U.S. preschoolers’ room contents (n = 39 girls) found significant gender differences that were consistent with the gender-typing documented decades ago. Multilevel modeling showed parents’ expressivity and instrumentality largely to be unrelated to their child’s gender-typed playthings. Also, children in families with same-gender siblings, and girls who had spent more time in preschool, had more gender-typed playthings. Thus, the gender-typing of children’s playthings is attributable to multiple pathways, although familial contributors were minimal in our study. We discuss implications for toy advertising and how parents can be astute consumers, as well as strategies to create gender-neutral preschool classrooms and home environments.

A weight‐related growth mindset increases negative attitudes toward obese people
Nic Hooper et al.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, September 2018, Pages 488-493


In implicit personality theory, people with entity views or a fixed mindset perceive characteristics (e.g., intelligence) as uncontrollable, whereas people with incremental views or a growth mindset perceive characteristics as controllable. In addition to other benefits, the literature sometimes suggests that having a growth mindset will protect against prejudice, which the current two studies examine in terms of negative attitudes toward obese people. Participants (total N = 501) were randomly assigned to complete a questionnaire assessing attitudes toward an obese or nonobese person and a self‐theory questionnaire also assessed ideas about body weight. People with a growth mindset, and not fixed mindset, were more likely to have negative attitudes toward obese individuals, pointing to a potential downside of growth mindset in the obesity domain.

Stress in strong convictions: Precarious manhood beliefs moderate cortisol reactivity to masculinity threats
Mary Himmelstein, Brandon Kramer & Kristen Springer
Psychology of Men & Masculinity, forthcoming


In this study, we use an experimental framework to fill three existing gaps in the masculinities and health literatures. First, we examine the impact of masculinity threats on cortisol reactivity to understand how hegemonic masculinity gets “under the skin” to affect men’s health. Second, we test two variations of a masculinity threat, which represents an important methodological advance to understand which type of threat is most stressful. Third, we examine whether precarious manhood beliefs (agreement with the idea that manhood is a fleeting state that can be lost) moderate physiological reactivity to masculinity threats, to understand who might be most vulnerable to health consequences of masculinity norms. We found that men who most strongly subscribe to precarious manhood beliefs exhibited reactivity to a dropping masculinity threat (initially high score that drops from a score of 80 to a score of 25 during the experimental manipulation), but not a low masculinity threat (score that remains at 25 during the experimental manipulation) or any control conditions. Our results suggest that men who most strongly subscribe to precarious manhood beliefs may be most at risk for health problems associated with stress after a loss of masculinity status, rather than individuals with consistently low masculinity status.

Characters we love to hate: Perceptions of dark triad characters in media
Grace Snyder et al.
Psychology of Popular Media Culture, forthcoming


Although the Dark Triad personality (narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism) has extensive background research, there has been a lack of investigation into perceptions of people high in the Dark Triad. Using film trailers with prominent Dark Triad characters, the current research examined perceptions of characters in movies and TV shows based on their Dark Triad characteristics and their gender. Undergraduate students (pilot study N = 21; present study N = 86) watched theatrical trailers originally released by the production companies before they rated 2 key characters’ Dark Triad traits with the Dirty Dozen (Jonason & Webster, 2010). Analyses revealed significant interactions such that people reported less positive perceptions (e.g., less likable, relatable, appealing, and more troublesome) of female Dark Triad characters, as opposed to non-Dark Triad characters and male characters. Non-Dark Triad male characters were viewed as more troublesome than non-Dark Triad female characters, and female Dark Triad characters were viewed as the most troublesome. Possible extensions could explore the prevalence and popularity of Dark Triad-type characters in the media and how genders in media have changed over time.

Community appeal: Explanation without information
Babak Hemmatian & Steven Sloman
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming


Formal or categorical explanation involves the use of a label to explain a property of an object or group of objects. In four experiments, we provide evidence that label entrenchment, the degree to which a label is accepted and used by members of the community, influences the judged quality of a categorical explanation whether or not the explanation offers substantive information about the explanandum. Experiment 1 shows that explanations using unentrenched labels are seen as less comprehensive and less natural, independent of the causal information they provide. Experiment 2 shows that these intuitions persist when the community has no additional, relevant featural information, so the label amounts to a mere name for the explanandum. Experiment 3 finds a similar effect when the unentrenched label is not widely used, but is defined by a group of experts and the recipient of the explanation is herself an expert familiar with the topic. The effect also obtains for categories that lack a coherent causal structure. Experiment 4 further demonstrates the domain generality of the entrenchment effect and provides evidence against several interpretations of the results. A majority of participants in Experiments 3 and 4 could not report the impact of entrenchment on their judgments. We argue that this reliance on community cues arose because the community often has useful information to provide about categories. The common use of labels as conduits for this communal knowledge results in reliance on community cues even when they are uninformative.

The effects of category and physical features on stereotyping and evaluation
Debbie Ma, Joshua Correll & Bernd Wittenbrink
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2018, Pages 42-50


Stereotyping and prejudice researchers have provided numerous demonstrations that the greater a target's prototypicality, the more similar attitudes and inferences will be to the attitudes and stereotypes perceivers have about the group. However, research to date has yet to also test for a possible quadratic association relating target prototypicality to judgment. The current research offers an extension of existing research by testing for both linear and quadratic relationships between target prototypicality and stereotyping using an implicit measure of stereotyping. In Study 1, we tested for linear and quadratic associations between racial prototypicality and stereotyping of Black and White males, while also manipulating the valence of the stereotypes. Study 2 offered a conceptual replication of Study 1 and tested for linear and quadratic associations between gender prototypicality and stereotyping of White males and White females, while again manipulating the valence of these gender stereotypes. Across both studies we replicated previous research showing a positive, linear effect of prototypicality on stereotyping, such that targets greater in prototypicality elicited greater stereotyping. We also found evidence of a quadratic effect of prototypicality, such that average prototypic targets elicited the most stereotyping. Finally, we observed that negative, rather than positive, stereotypes drove both the linear and quadratic effects we report.

You look pretty happy: Attractiveness moderates emotion perception
Sofie Lindeberg, Belinda Craig & Ottmar Lipp
Emotion, forthcoming


A happy face advantage has consistently been shown in emotion categorization tasks; happy faces are categorized as happy faster than angry faces as angry. Furthermore, social category cues, such as facial sex and race, moderate the happy face advantage in evaluatively congruent ways with a larger happy face advantage for more positively evaluated faces. We investigated whether attractiveness, a facial attribute unrelated to more defined social categories, would moderate the happy face advantage consistent with the evaluative congruence account. A larger happy face advantage for the more positively evaluated attractive faces than for unattractive faces was predicted. Across 4 experiments participants categorized attractive and unattractive faces as happy or angry as quickly and accurately as possible. As predicted, when female faces were categorized separately, a happy face advantage emerged for the attractive females but not for the unattractive females. Corresponding results were only found in the error rates for male faces. This pattern was confirmed when female and male faces were categorized together, indicating that attractiveness may have a stronger influence on emotion perception for female faces. Attractiveness is shown to moderate emotion perception in line with the evaluative congruence account and is suggested to have a stronger influence on emotion perception than facial sex cues in contexts where attractiveness is a salient evaluative dimension.

No clear evidence for correlations between handgrip strength and sexually dimorphic acoustic properties of voices
Chengyang Han et al.
American Journal of Human Biology, forthcoming

Methods: We tested the putative relationships between White UK (N = 115) and Chinese (N = 106) participants' handgrip strength (a widely used proxy for general upper‐body strength) and five sexually dimorphic acoustic properties of voices: fundamental frequency (F0), fundamental frequency's SD (F0‐SD), formant dispersion (Df), formant position (Pf), and estimated vocal‐tract length (VTL).

Results: Analyses revealed no clear evidence that stronger individuals had more masculine voices.

Group Status Modulates the Associative Strength Between Status Quo Supporting Beliefs and Anti-Black Attitudes
Chadly Stern & Jordan Axt
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming


What belief systems are associated with negative attitudes toward lower status groups? Does the relationship differ across higher and lower status groups? We examined the extent to which status quo supporting beliefs (social dominance orientation and conservatism) were associated with negative attitudes toward African Americans and whether the strength of the relationship varied between members of higher and lower status racial groups. On explicit and implicit measures, status quo supporting beliefs were associated with negative attitudes toward African Americans among members of higher (White) and lower status (Black, Hispanic, and Asian) racial groups. The association was stronger among Whites than racial minorities and was stronger among Asians and Latinos than Blacks. Status quo supporting beliefs are associated with negative attitudes toward lower status groups regardless of one’s group status, but the strength of the association is greatest among the societally advantaged.

Nothing to fear? Anxiety, numeracy, and demographic perceptions
Yamil Ricardo Velez et al.
Research & Politics, September 2018


Studies have found that Americans tend to overestimate the size of minority populations, a pattern that potentially increases antipathy toward racial and ethnic outgroups due to heightened perceptions of intergroup competition. Recent research, however, suggests that providing people with accurate information about racial and ethnic demographics has no discernible impact on intergroup attitudes. In this study, we consider whether anxiety is responsible for overestimates of racial and ethnic groups in the USA. We conduct an experiment where we manipulate anxiety before asking subjects to estimate the size of racial and ethnic groups at the local and national level. Contrary to our expectations, our findings suggest that there is no discernible link between emotions and estimates of minority group percentages, and in some cases, negative emotions reduce misperceptions.


from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.