Kevin Lewis

August 08, 2019

Scarcity disrupts the neural encoding of Black faces: A socioperceptual pathway to discrimination
Amy Krosch & David Amodio
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

When economic resources are scarce, racial minorities are often devalued and disenfranchised. We proposed that this pattern extends to visual processing, such that the encoding of minority group faces is disrupted under scarcity — an effect that may facilitate discrimination and contribute to racial disparities. Specifically, we used EEG and fMRI to test whether scarce economic conditions induce deficits in neural encoding of Black faces, and we examined whether this effect is associated with discriminatory resource allocation in behavior. In Study 1, framing resources as scarce (vs. neutral) selectively impaired the neural encoding of Black (vs. White) faces, as indexed by a delayed face-related N170 ERP response, and the degree of this encoding deficit predicted anti-Black allocation decisions. In Study 2, we replicated and extended this effect using fMRI: Resources framed as scarce (vs. neutral) reduced face-sensitive fusiform activity to Black (vs. White) faces. Furthermore, scarcity-decreased fusiform activity to Black faces corresponded with decreased valuation-related striatum activity to predict anti-Black allocation decisions. These findings suggest that impaired visual processing and devaluation occur selectively for minorities under scarcity — an implicit effect that may promote discrimination and contribute to rising disparities observed during economic stress.

Gay Asian Americans Are Seen as More American Than Asian Americans Who Are Presumed Straight
Mika Semrow et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Four studies investigate whether gay Asian Americans are stereotyped as more American than Asian Americans who are presumed straight. Gay Asian American men (Study 1) and women (Study 2) were rated as more American than their counterparts whose sexual orientation was unspecified. However, sexual orientation did not influence judgments of Whites’ American identity. The relationship between Asian Americans’ sexual orientation and perceptions of their American identity was mediated by a belief that American culture is relatively more accepting of gay people than Asian culture (Studies 3 and 4). Manipulating how accepting of gay people a target’s country of origin is relative to the United States altered ratings of American identity for gay but not straight targets (Study 4). Using an intersectional approach, these studies demonstrate that sexual orientation information comes together with race to influence who is likely to be perceived as American.

Examining the effects of exposure to a sexualized female video game protagonist on women’s body image
Danielle Lindner et al.
Psychology of Popular Media Culture, forthcoming

Whether sexualization of female characters in video games impacts women players’ body satisfaction and aggression toward other women remains an issue of debate. In the current study, female players were randomly assigned to play either a more or less sexualized avatar in a Tomb Raider game. Participants also reported on their self-objectification and body dissatisfaction, as well as hostility and aggression toward a female confederate. Results indicated that exposure to a sexualized avatar in a video game did not influence any outcomes for female participants. These results indicate that, at least for video games, exposure to sexualized females may not have a substantial impact on female players.

Minority Stress, Emotion Regulation, and Executive Function: An Experimental Investigation of Gay and Lesbian Adults
Larissa McGarrity et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Minority stress is associated with emotional, cognitive, and health consequences for sexual minority individuals. Mechanisms remain poorly understood. Theory and preliminary evidence suggests that stress associated with minority identity results in negative emotions and attempts at suppression, which may contribute to depletion of executive function. This study was an experimental investigation of gay and lesbian adults (N = 141). Participants engaged in a stressful interpersonal task with a confederate with anti-gay or pro-gay attitudes. We examined how condition affected executive function, along with potential mediators (state anger, anxiety, expressive suppression). Contrary to hypotheses, participants in the anti-gay condition showed better postmanipulation cognitive performance than the pro-gay condition. This effect was partially mediated by anger. Participants in the anti-gay condition reported greater attempts at suppression, but this variable did not emerge as a mediator. This study was the first to experimentally manipulate exposure to anti-gay attitudes and measure effects on executive function.

Language influences mass opinion toward gender and LGBT equality
Margit Tavits & Efrén Pérez
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

To improve gender equality and tolerance toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities, several nations have promoted the use of gender-neutral pronouns and words. Do these linguistic devices actually reduce biases that favor men over women, gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals? The current article explores this question with 3 large-scale experiments in Sweden, which formally incorporated a gender-neutral pronoun into its language alongside established gendered pronouns equivalent to he and she. The evidence shows that compared with masculine pronouns, use of gender-neutral pronouns decreases the mental salience of males. This shift is associated with individuals expressing less bias in favor of traditional gender roles and categories, as reflected in more favorable attitudes toward women and LGBT individuals in public life. Additional analyses reveal similar patterns for feminine pronouns. The influence of both pronouns is more automatic than controlled.

Not Quite Monoracial: Biracial Stereotypes Explored
Allison Skinner, Sylvia Perry & Sarah Gaither
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Stereotypes often guide our perceptions of members of social groups. However, research has yet to document what stereotypes may exist for the fastest growing youth demographic in the United States — biracial individuals. Across seven studies (N = 1,104), we investigate what stereotypes are attributed to various biracial groups, whether biracial individuals are stereotyped as more similar to their lower status monoracial parent group (trait hypodescent), and whether contact moderates these stereotypes. Results provide evidence of some universal biracial stereotypes that are applied to all biracial groups: attractive and not fitting in or belonging. We also find that all biracial groups are attributed a number of unique stereotypes (i.e., which are not associated with their monoracial parent groups). However, across all studies, we find little evidence of trait hypodescent and no evidence that the tendency to engage in trait hypodescent varies as a function of contact.

Neural adaptation to faces reveals racial outgroup homogeneity effects in early perception
Brent Hughes et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 16 July 2019, Pages 14532-14537

A hallmark of intergroup biases is the tendency to individuate members of one’s own group but process members of other groups categorically. While the consequences of these biases for stereotyping and discrimination are well-documented, their early perceptual underpinnings remain less understood. Here, we investigated the neural mechanisms of this effect by testing whether high-level visual cortex is differentially tuned in its sensitivity to variation in own-race versus other-race faces. Using a functional MRI adaptation paradigm, we measured White participants’ habituation to blocks of White and Black faces that parametrically varied in their groupwise similarity. Participants showed a greater tendency to individuate own-race faces in perception, showing both greater release from adaptation to unique identities and increased sensitivity in the adaptation response to physical difference among faces. These group differences emerge in the tuning of early face-selective cortex and mirror behavioral differences in the memory and perception of own- versus other-race faces. Our results suggest that biases for other-race faces emerge at some of the earliest stages of sensory perception.

Black Intragroup Empathic Responding to Police Interracial Violence: Effects of Victim Stereotypicality and Blacks’ Racial Identification
James Johnson, Len Lecci & John Dovidio
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Despite the public outrage in response to police violence against unarmed Black men, work on the psychological dynamics of reactions to these incidents is relatively rare. The present research examined whether empathy for a Black male victim of White police interracial violence would vary as a function of victim stereotypicality (stereotypic/counterstereotypic) and Black participant racial identity. In Study 1, 140 Black participants were recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). As hypothesized, Black participants low in racial identification reported less empathy for the stereotypical relative to the counterstereotypical victim. Those high in racial identification showed relatively high levels of empathy regardless of the characteristics of the Black victim. Study 2 replicated these effects with 263 Black MTurk participants. This research highlights the value of considering individual differences in the Black observers (racial identification) and the characteristics of Black victims to better understand the psychological processes involved in intragroup responses to police violence.

The first-member heuristic: Group members labeled “first” influence judgment and treatment of groups
Janina Steinmetz, Maferima Touré-Tillery & Ayelet Fishbach
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

People often make judgments about a group (e.g., immigrants from a specific country) based on information about a single group member. Seven studies (N = 1,929) tested the hypothesis that people will expect the performance of an arbitrarily ordered group to match that of the group member in the first position of a sequence more closely than that of group members in other positions. This greater perceived diagnosticity of the first member will in turn affect how people treat the group. This pattern of judgment and treatment of groups, labeled the “first-member heuristic,” generalized across various performance contexts (e.g., gymnastic routine, relay race, and job performance), and regardless of whether the focal member performed poorly or well (Studies 1–3). Consistent with the notion that first members are deemed most informative, participants were more likely to turn to the member in the first (vs. other) position to learn about the group (Study 4). Further, through their disproportionate influence on the expected performance of other group members, first members’ performances also influenced participants’ support for policies that would benefit or hurt a group (Study 5) and their likelihood to join a group (Study 6). Finally, perceived group homogeneity moderated the first-member heuristic, such that it attenuated for nonhomogeneous groups (Study 7).

When and how stereotype threat influences older adults’ arithmetic performance: Insight from a strategy approach
Poshita Nicholas, Patrick Lemaire & Isabelle Régner
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

In 3 experiments, we investigated how age-related differences in cognitive performance are exacerbated by age-based stereotype threat. We adopted a strategy approach and investigated a domain, namely arithmetic, where age-related differences in participants’ performance are either nonexistent or very small and where effects of age-based stereotype threat have never been investigated. In 2 types of tasks (problem verification in Experiment 1 and computational estimation in Experiments 2 and 3), we found that age-based stereotype threat led older adults to obtain poorer performance, to adopt less systematically and less often the better strategy on each problem, to repeat the same strategy across trials even when it was inappropriate, and to execute available strategies more poorly. We also found that poorer strategy use mediated threat effects and that individual differences in processing resources moderated individuals’ sensitivity to effects of stereotype threat. Our results establish that age-based stereotype threat effects occur in a wide variety of cognitive domains and tasks and are independent of pre-experimental differences in young and older adults’ performance. They deepen our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying age-based, and other stereotype threat effects. They also document how domain-general and domain-specific processing resources moderate individual differences in age-based stereotype threat effects. Our findings have important implications to improve our understanding of how and when age-based (and other) stereotype threat effects occur, and, more generally, how psychosocial factors modulate age-related changes in human cognition.

Melanated Millennials and the Politics of Black Hair
Byron D'Andra Orey & Yu Zhang
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

In this article, we make a connection between perceptions of African‐American women's appearances and candidate evaluation. We specifically focus on cases where voters possess limited information. In low‐information elections, voters compensate by taking informational shortcuts based on candidate cues. We anticipate our findings to show that evaluations of African‐American female candidates are influenced by physical appearances, and that appearance provides a distinct “cue” to African‐American voters as to whether the candidate (1) can best be described by certain stereotypes, (2) subscribes to black nationalist views, and (3) supports progressive policies. The data consist of African‐American students from a historically black university in the Deep South. An experimental research design was employed to test whether candidates who possessed phenotypes that mirrored the prototypical African American in appearance were perceived differently when compared to those with more Eurocentric phenotypes. The results reveal that African‐American students perceived candidates who possessed the prototypical Afrocentric appearance to be more likely to be supportive of historically black colleges and universities, progressive policies, and were perceived to be more hardworking, when compared to lighter‐skinned candidates. Light‐skinned candidates with straight hair were ranked the lowest in each of these categories.

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