Doing Impressions

Kevin Lewis

March 10, 2022

The way they look: Phenotypic prototypicality shapes the perceived intergroup attitudes of in- and out-group members
Jonas Kunst et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Even when people hold little prejudice themselves, expectations about how members of other groups perceive them may negatively influence interracial relations. In four pre-registered experiments, each using a full intergroup design with Black and White participants, we show that people infer negative meta-attitudes from out-group members whose appearance is phenotypically prototypical, which in turn leads to less favorable orientations toward intergroup contact, independent of personal attitudes. In Experiment 1, Black Americans, but not White Americans, perceived that more phenotypically prototypical out-group members held less favorable meta-attitudes, and this explained less favorable contact orientations. In Experiment 2, this pattern emerged for both groups of participants and was particularly pronounced among individuals higher in stigma consciousness. Experiment 3 replicated Experiment 2 with representative samples and demonstrated that the effect of phenotypic prototypicality was more pronounced among participants reporting greater previous rejection by the out-group. With few exceptions, participants in the experiments also perceived phenotypically prototypical in-group members as having less positive meta-attitudes and participants showed less favorable contact orientations toward these in-group targets. An internal meta-analysis supported the robustness of the findings in the first three experiments. In Experiment 4, direct evidence for the causal effect of the mediator meta-attitudes on orientations toward contact with in- and out-group members was obtained. In all studies, effects held controlling for participants' general intergroup attitudes and experiences, demonstrating the unique role of meta-attitudes in shaping intergroup relations. We discuss our results in light of previous research, highlight social implications, and suggest future directions. 

Changing Hearts and Minds? Why Media Messages Designed to Foster Empathy Often Fail
Joshua Gubler et al.
Journal of Politics, forthcoming

Politicians and social activists frequently employ media designed to "change hearts and minds" by humanizing outgroups. These messages, it is assumed, lead to empathic concern, which motivates individuals to reconsider punitive policy attitudes. How effective is this approach? Using two experiments, we find that while media messages humanized Latinos for all respondents, the treatment messages produced the largest empathy response among those with the most positive prior attitudes. A key intended target of the media messages - those with the highest pre-treatment antipathy toward the outgroup - reported a dramatically lower increase in empathy. In a second study, we show that unpleasant affect from dissonance is one important mechanism driving these differential results. In both studies, treatments designed to provoke increased empathic concern produced little change in policy attitudes. Thus, changing hearts using empathy-inducing media is a complex task, making the ability to change minds elusive. 

Gender Backlash and the Moderating Role of Shared Racial Group Membership
Vivian Xiao, Brian Lowery & Amelia Stillwell
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Research suggests that White women often experience more gender backlash than women of color in response to expressions of agency. We consider whether this differential in backlash is driven by the match or mismatch of the race of both perceivers and targets. Much of the existing work in this space examines the perspective of White perceivers, which might underestimate racial minority women's susceptibility to backlash if backlash occurs primarily in same-race interactions. We examine how the racial group memberships of targets and perceivers jointly affect backlash against gender-norm violating women. In analyses of Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford's accusations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh and Anita Hill's accusations against Clarence Thomas during their respective U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings, an archival analysis of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and two experiments, we find that perceivers of different races tend to express more backlash toward racial in-group than out-group women. 

Changes in Americans' prejudices during the presidency of Donald Trump
Benjamin Ruisch & Melissa Ferguson
Nature Human Behaviour, forthcoming 

The presidency of Donald Trump represented a relatively unique event in modern American history, whereby a sitting US president made numerous controversial remarks about minoritized groups yet nonetheless maintained substantial public support. Trump's comments constituted a departure from the egalitarian norms that had long characterized American political discourse. Here, we examine the potential effects of Trump's rhetoric on Americans' attitudes, predicting that these high-profile norm violations may have reshaped the personal prejudices of the American people. In 13 studies including over 10,000 participants, we tested how Americans' prejudice changed following the political ascension of Donald Trump. We found that explicit racial and religious prejudice significantly increased amongst Trump's supporters, whereas individuals opposed to Trump exhibited decreases in prejudice. Further, changing social norms appear to explain these changes in prejudice. These results suggest that Trump's presidency coincided with a substantial change in the topography of prejudice in the United States.

Dark faces in white spaces: The effects of skin tone, race, ethnicity, and intergroup preferences on interpersonal judgments and voting behavior
Patrizia Chirco & Tonya Buchanan
Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, forthcoming

Across three experimental studies, we explored how a political candidate's intersections of skin tone, race, and ethnicity affect voting preferences and interpersonal judgments (e.g., warmth, trustworthiness, expertise). Study 1 assessed whether White participants would favor a light-skinned (vs. dark-skinned) African American candidate. Study 2 investigated participant (White vs. non-White) voting preferences based on the interaction between candidate race/ethnicity and relative skin tone (lighter vs. darker). In Study 3, we examined the influence of candidate race/ethnicity on voters' preferences as well as the accuracy and impact of memory for candidate skin tone. Supporting our hypotheses, White participants generally held more negative attitudes (e.g., expressed less warmth, perceived candidates as less trustworthy) and were less likely to vote for underrepresented candidates with darker skin tones than non-White participants were. Additionally, voters remembered politicians as having a lighter skin tone, and the extent of such bias predicted warmth, perceived trustworthiness, and expertise of the candidate. While candidate race/ethnicity on its own did not affect voting preferences and attitudes, it significantly influenced voters when race/ethnicity was associated with certain skin tones (i.e., brown skin tone). Theoretical, practical, and political implications for judgments influenced by skin tone and race/ethnicity of candidates are discussed. 

Imperative Patriotism and Minority Candidacies: Examining the Role of Military Status in Racial Evaluations of South Asian Candidates
Neil Visalvanich & Shyam Sriram
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

South Asians have seen an increase in representation at all levels of US government, from Congress to the Vice Presidency, yet a paucity of work has been done examining South Asian candidates in America. The distinct nature of South Asian candidacies allows us to examine the intersection between race and religious identity and how emphasizing different social and political identities impact minority candidate evaluations. We theorize the potential effects of racial-political stereotyping of South Asians, focusing specifically on how a Hindu or Muslim background may negatively influence candidate evaluation. Additionally, we consider whether military service has any effect on evaluations of South Asian candidates as dangerous or deficient. We test this theory with a survey experiment that varies both South Asian religious identity, political ideology, and military service. Our findings indicate that white respondents are more hostile to South Asian candidates when compared to white candidates with similar biographies, and that respondents are particularly hostile to Muslim candidates. Cueing military service alleviates this handicap for Muslim candidates, but further analysis reveals that military service only improves perceptions among Democratic respondents. 

What does it mean to be (seen as) human? The importance of gender in humanization
Ashley Martin & Malia Mason
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

What does it mean to be (seen as) human? Ten studies explore this age-old question and show that gender is a critical feature of perceiving humanness, being more central to conceptions of humanness than other social categories (race, age, sexual orientation, religion, disability). Our first six studies induce humanization (i.e., anthropomorphism) and measure social-category ascription. Across different manipulations (e.g., having participants recall experiences, observe moving shapes, imagine nonhuman entities as people, and create a human form), we find that gender is the most strongly ascribed social category and the one that uniquely predicts humanization. To provide further evidence that gender is central to conceptions of personhood, and to examine the consequences of withholding it, we then demonstrate that removing gender from virtual humans (Study 5), human groups (Study 6), alien species (Study 7), and individuals (Study 8) leads them to be seen as less human. The diminished humanness ascribed to nongendered and genderless targets is due, at least in part, to the lack of a gender schema to guide facile and efficient sensemaking. The relative difficulty perceivers had in making sense of nongendered targets predicted diminished humanness ratings. Finally, we demonstrate downstream consequences of stripping a target of gender: Perceivers consider them less relatable and more socially distant (Study 8). These results have theoretical implications for research on gender, (de)humanization, anthropomorphism, and social cognition, more broadly. 

The role of status in the early emergence of pro-White bias in rural Uganda
Julia Marshall et al.
Developmental Science, forthcoming

Research investigating the early emergence of racial prejudice has been largely limited to contexts in which racial prejudice is most likely to emerge-multiracial societies that have pronounced racial inequality (e.g., United States, South Africa). The present study assessed whether pro-White racial bias is also early emerging in a homogenous Black community that has little exposure to modern media and where children presumably experience less overt discrimination than in past samples. Black African children (N = 214) between 5- and 12-years-old living in rural Uganda exhibited substantial pro-White racial bias, preferring White over Black children 78% of the time. Ugandan children also judged White children as higher status than Black children, and these status judgments predicted their degree of pro-White bias. Our results indicate that pro-White racial biases can emerge even in a homogenous Black community and that, in some contexts, minimal status cues can be sufficient for the early development of racial prejudice. 

The Impact of COVID-19 on Americans' Attitudes toward China: Does Local Incidence Rate Matter?
Qian He, Ziye Zhang & Yu Xie
Social Psychology Quarterly, forthcoming

Linking local COVID-19 and population statistics to a U.S.-based survey we recently conducted, we examine the spatial variation in the impact of COVID-19 on Americans' attitudes toward China. The research strategy capitalizes on differential local COVID-19 incidence rates as varying dosages of COVID-19 impact across local contexts in the United States. Our results reveal negative yet heterogeneous effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on Americans' attitudes toward China. We find that greater local exposure to COVID-19 is associated with a lower level of trust in Chinese and a less favorable attitude toward China. These findings lend consistent support to behavioral immune system theory by bridging the literature on contextual variations in public attitudes, with broader implications for U.S.-China relations.

Racial Stratification Among Latinos in the Mortgage Market
José Loya
Race and Social Problems, March 2022, Pages 39-52

Studies of the mortgage industry's impact on racial stratification have long focused on racial disparities found between white and black homeowners. Ample research demonstrates that unequal access and treatment between white and black home seekers has created major differences in the type of loan products they are offered in the marketplace. While numerous studies also document disadvantaged Latino homebuyers, studies have yet to examine racial variation within the Latino population. This paper draws on annual data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) from 2010 to 2017 to assess variation in racial disparities among Latinos in loan outcomes and compares them to Non-Latino whites, blacks, Asians, and Others. I show that loan rejections and high cost originations are highest among black Latinos and lowest among white and Asian Latinos. Other Latinos perform somewhere in the middle. These trends are particularly true when examining mortgage denials. When comparing Latino racial groups to Non-Latinos, the observed lending patterns provide evidence of a tri-racial hierarchy in the mortgage market.

Stigma Hierarchies: The Internal Dynamics of Stigmatization in the Sex Work Occupation
Madeline Toubiana & Trish Ruebottom
Administrative Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Scholars studying stigmatized, or "dirty work," occupations have tended to characterize people outside of the occupation as the stigmatizers and those within the occupation as social supports who buffer each other from stigma. We argue that this characterization discounts the unique ways stigmatization can take place within heterogeneous occupations and the challenges it raises for finding support from other occupational members. Based on a six-year qualitative study of the sex work occupation in Canada, we explore the internal dynamics of stigmatization in the occupation. Our analysis reveals that sex workers are not just the stigmatized but also the stigmatizers, as they elaborate, borrow, and adapt perceptions of stigma to rank and place each other into a stigma hierarchy. To avoid the risks of being stigmatized based on this hierarchy, sex workers engage in stealth organizing to find safe others within the occupation to provide social support. Thus the occupation is not a stigma-free safe haven for its workers. Instead, the occupation as a whole is characterized by dissension among its members. Their efforts to find social support lead to what we call bounded entitativity: a sense of being grouplike that is confined to small community groups within a broader occupational context of dissension. We found bounded entitativity to be associated with challenges for occupational members in undertaking social change efforts.

The transmission of gender stereotypes through televised patterns of nonverbal bias
Sarah Ariel Lamer et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

One tacit assumption in social psychology is that people learn gender stereotypes from their environments. Yet, little research has examined how such learning might occur: What are the features of social environments that shape people's gender stereotypes? We propose that nonverbal patterns communicate intersubjective gender norms (i.e., what behaviors people value in women and girls vs. men and boys). Furthermore, we propose that children develop intersubjective gender norms in part because they are commonly and consistently exposed to these nonverbal patterns. Across three studies, we tested the hypotheses that (a) children are frequently exposed to a nonverbal pattern of gender-role bias in which people respond more positively to gender-stereotypical than counterstereotypical girls and boys and (b) emotionally perceptive girls extract meaning from this pattern about what behaviors others value in girls (traditionally feminine behavior) and boys (traditionally masculine behavior). Study 1 indicated that characters across 12 popular U.S. children's TV programs exhibited a small, but consistent nonverbal bias favoring gender-stereotypical TV characters. In Study 2, girls (N = 68; 6-10 years) felt more pressure to be feminine after viewing TV clips that included traditional nonverbal bias than after viewing clips that reversed this bias. As predicted, these results held only to the extent that children could accurately decode nonverbal emotion (i.e., were emotionally perceptive). Study 3 replicated these results (N = 91; 6-11 years). 

Confederate Memorials and the Housing Market 
Clifton Green et al.
Emory University Working Paper, January 2022

Houses on streets with names that honor the Confederacy sell for 3% less than other similar nearby houses. The effect is concentrated outside the South and in regions with greater Black populations and more left-leaning voters, and it increases following attention-grabbing events that highlight the racial underpinnings of Confederate symbols. Confederate listings are also more likely to experience long durations and sell at large discounts relative to listing prices. Consistent with residential sorting, Confederate-memorial houses are less likely to be occupied by Black, college-educated, or Democratic-voting residents. The findings suggest that Confederate memorials can have direct effects on asset markets. 

Repeating stereotypes: Increased belief and subsequent discrimination
Christian Unkelbach & Esra Hatice Oğuz Taşbaş European
Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

People believe repeated information more compared to novel information. Classic research on this repetition-induced truth effect used trivia statements as information and truth ratings as the main DV. We investigate how repeating stereotypes about groups influence the stereotypes' believability and decisions about group members. Participants learned positive stereotypes about two groups of aliens. However, for one group, we repeated the stereotypes. Then, participants completed a mock personnel selection task based on short CVs of the aliens. Finally, participants evaluated the truth of the presented stereotypes. Experiment 1 showed a preference for the group with repeated information and increased belief in repeated information. Experiment 2 replicated this pattern and excluded alternative explanations in terms of better memory, evaluative conditioning, and mere exposure. We thereby provide evidence for the repetition-induced truth effect in the stereotyping domain and show the influence of mere information repetition on subsequent group-based discriminatory behavior.


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