Not my type

Kevin Lewis

June 08, 2017

The Visibility of Social Class From Facial Cues
Thora Bjornsdottir & Nicholas Rule
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


Social class meaningfully impacts individuals’ life outcomes and daily interactions, and the mere perception of one’s socioeconomic standing can have significant ramifications. To better understand how people infer others’ social class, we therefore tested the legibility of class (operationalized as monetary income) from facial images, finding across 4 participant samples and 2 stimulus sets that perceivers categorized the faces of rich and poor targets significantly better than chance. Further investigation showed that perceivers categorize social class using minimal facial cues and employ a variety of stereotype-related impressions to make their judgments. Of these, attractiveness accurately cued higher social class in self-selected dating profile photos. However, only the stereotype that well-being positively relates to wealth served as a valid cue in neutral faces. Indeed, neutrally posed rich targets displayed more positive affect relative to poor targets and perceivers used this affective information to categorize their social class. Impressions of social class from these facial cues also influenced participants’ evaluations of the targets’ employability, demonstrating that face-based perceptions of social class may have important downstream consequences.

Breaking the prejudice habit: Mechanisms, timecourse, and longevity
Patrick Forscher et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming


The prejudice habit-breaking intervention (Devine, Forscher, Austin, & Cox, 2012) and its offshoots (e.g., Carnes et al., 2015) have shown promise in effecting long-term change in key outcomes related to intergroup bias, including increases in awareness, concern about discrimination, and, in one study, long-term decreases in implicit bias. This intervention is based on the premise that unintentional bias is like a habit that can be broken with sufficient motivation, awareness, and effort. We conducted replication of the original habit-breaking intervention experiment in a sample more than three times the size of the original (N = 292). We also measured all outcomes every other day for 14 days and measured potential mechanisms for the intervention's effects. Consistent with previous results, the habit-breaking intervention produced a change in concern that endured two weeks post-intervention. These effects were associated with increased sensitivity to the biases of others and an increased tendency to label biases as wrong. Contrasting with the original work, both control and intervention participants decreased in implicit bias, and the effects of the habit-breaking intervention on awareness declined in the second week of the study. In a subsample recruited two years later, intervention participants were more likely than control participants to object on a public online forum to an essay endorsing racial stereotyping. Our results suggest that the habit-breaking intervention produces enduring changes in peoples' knowledge of and beliefs about race-related issues, and we argue that these changes are even more important for promoting long-term behavioral change than are changes in implicit bias.

When Identity Hurts: How Positive Intragroup Experiences Yield Negative Mental Health Implications for Ethnic and Sexual Minorities
Christopher Begeny & Yuen Huo
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming


Two studies (longitudinal, N=510; cross-sectional; N=249) explain how feeling valued in one's ethnic/sexual minority group has benefits for mental health but also certain costs through the way it shapes minorities' identity. Drawing from the intragroup status and health model (ISAH) we posit that when individuals feel valued in their minority group it bolsters group identification; with greater identity-centrality individuals tend to view daily social interactions through the ‘lens’ of their minority group and ultimately perceive more discrimination. Discrimination, in turn, negatively shapes health. Thus, feeling valued in one's minority group has benefits for health but also indirect costs, perhaps counterintuitively by strengthening minority group identity. Both studies supported these predictions. Study 2 also supported an adapted ISAH model, for use in the context of concealable stigmatized identities (sexual minorities). Overall, the ISAH model explains why feeling valued and having strong social identities are not always beneficial, yielding certain costs for stigmatized individuals' health.

Gender Asymmetry in the Construction of American National Identity
Laura Van Berkel, Ludwin Molina & Sahana Mukherjee
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming


Dominant groups (e.g., White U.S. citizens) are more associated with “American” identity and they feel greater ownership over American national identity compared to ethnic minority groups. We extended this perception to gender and tested whether American national identity is constructed in masculine, versus feminine, terms. We examined whether U.S. men feel greater symbolic ownership over the nation and represent what it means to be a prototypical American, more than U.S. women. In Study 1, men and women considered male-associated traits more American than female-associated traits and listed more men as examples of “true” Americans than women. In Study 2, men reported higher levels of nationalism than women. Women’s nationalism was moderated by their conception of male-associated traits as American — women who viewed American identity as more masculine were less nationalistic. Men showed a stronger correlation between gender identity and American identity compared to women. However, correlations between gender identity and nationalism did not differ by participant gender. Results suggest men and masculinity are considered more American than are women and femininity. We provide support for the subgroup asymmetry hypothesis through the novel lens of gender. We discuss means of attenuating the gendered construction of national identity in terms of media, policy, and education.

Are the ethnically tolerant free of discrimination, prejudice and political intolerance?
Boris Bizumic et al.
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming


We hypothesized that the ethnically tolerant (i.e., people who are anti-ethnocentric and score very low on a measure of ethnocentrism) would perceive people with extremely incompatible values and beliefs as out-groups and would engage in discrimination, prejudice and political intolerance against them. Experiments among Australian citizens in Studies 1 (N = 224) and 2 (N = 283) showed that the ethnically tolerant perceived supporters of a message in favour of mandatory detention of asylum seekers as out-groups and consequently exhibited discrimination, prejudice and political intolerance against them. Study 3 with 265 U.S. citizens showed that, controlling for liberalism, ethnic tolerance led to prejudice against out-groups. This was replicated with 522 UK citizens in Study 4, which also showed that social identity, and not moral conviction, mediated the link between ethnic tolerance and prejudice. The findings suggest that the ethnically tolerant can be discriminatory, prejudiced and politically intolerant against fellow humans.

Word Order Denotes Relevance Differences: The Case of Conjoined Phrases With Lexical Gender
Selin Kesebir
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


This work explores the order of linguistic references to the two genders (e.g., men and women vs. women and men). It argues that a gender is more likely to be mentioned first when it is perceived to have higher relevance in a context rather than lower relevance, and audiences assign stronger relevance to a party when the party is mentioned first rather than second. Studies 1–3 document the current prevalence of male-first conjoined phrases in the public (but not family) domain and link the pattern to historical changes in women’s public presence over the 20th century. Study 4 shows that contextual relevance cues affect the odds of first mention, such that people are more likely to refer to a woman before a man, when the two are in a primary school classroom rather than a corporate office. At the same time, Studies 4 and 5 find that people often choose to reproduce collectively preferred word order patterns (e.g., men and women). Studies 6 and 7 show that these choices matter because people assign more relevance to a party when it comes first rather than second in a conjoined phrase. Overall, this work offers theoretical grounding and empirical evidence for word order as a means of expressing and perpetuating gender stereotypes.

Why Elites Love Authentic Lowbrow Culture: Overcoming High-Status Denigration with Outsider Art
Oliver Hahl, Ezra Zuckerman & Minjae Kim
American Sociological Review, forthcoming


We develop and test the idea that public appreciation for authentic lowbrow culture affords an effective way for certain elites to address feelings of authenticity-insecurity arising from “high status denigration” (Hahl and Zuckerman 2014). This argument, which builds on recent sociological research on the “search for authenticity” (e.g., Grazian 2005) and on Bourdieu’s (1993) notion of artistic “disinterestedness,” is validated through experiments with U.S. subjects in the context of “outsider” art (Fine 2004). The first study demonstrates that preference for lowbrow culture perceived to be authentic is higher when individuals feel insecure in their authenticity because they attained status in a context where extrinsic incentives are salient. The second study demonstrates that audiences perceive the members of erstwhile denigrated high-status categories to be more authentic if they consume lowbrow culture, but only if the cultural producer is perceived as authentic. We conclude by noting how this “authenticity-by-appreciation” effect might be complementary to distinction-seeking as a motivation for elite cultural omnivorousness, and we draw broader implications for when and why particular forms of culture are in demand.

Developing Cognitions about Race: White 5- to 10-Year-Olds’ Perceptions of Hardship and Pain
Rebecca Dore et al.
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming


White American adults assume Blacks feel less pain than do Whites, but only if they believe Blacks have faced greater economic hardship than Whites. The current study investigates when in development children first recognize racial group differences in economic hardship, and examines whether perceptions of hardship inform children's racial bias in pain perception. Five- to ten-year-olds (N = 178) guessed which of two items (low- vs. high-value) belonged to a Black and a White child, and rated the amount of pain a Black and a White child would feel in 10 painful situations. By age 5, White American children attributed lower value possessions to Blacks than Whites, indicating a recognition of racial group differences in economic hardship. The results also replicated the emergence of a racial bias in pain perception between 5 and 10. However, unlike adults’, children's perceptions of hardship do not account for racial bias in pain perception.

Groupy versus Non-Groupy Social Preferences: Personality, Region, and Political Party
Rachel Kranton & Seth Sanders
American Economic Review, May 2017, Pages 65-69


This paper replicates results that some people, when allocating income, are "groupy" and discriminate between in and out groups, but many show no such bias. The paper explores psychometric, demographic, and political correlates. In an M-Turk experiment, no "Big Five" personality trait relates to this individual difference. Gender, education, and political party are not predictive. Political independents, however, are more likely to be non-groupy, and participants in deindustrialized counties or Deep South Republicans are more likely to be groupy. The results indicate (i) psychological notions of personality do not capture this heterogeneity and (ii) groupiness might relate to political and social contestation.

Solidarity Through Shared Disadvantage: Highlighting Shared Experiences of Discrimination Improves Relations Between Stigmatized Groups
Clarissa Cortland et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


Intergroup relations research has largely focused on relations between members of dominant groups and members of disadvantaged groups. The small body of work examining intraminority intergroup relations, or relations between members of different disadvantaged groups, reveals that salient experiences of ingroup discrimination promote positive relations between groups that share a dimension of identity (e.g., 2 different racial minority groups) and negative relations between groups that do not share a dimension of identity (e.g., a racial minority group and a sexual minority group). In the present work, we propose that shared experiences of discrimination between groups that do not share an identity dimension can be used as a lever to facilitate positive intraminority intergroup relations. Five experiments examining relations among 4 different disadvantaged groups supported this hypothesis. Both blatant (Experiments 1 and 3) and subtle (Experiments 2, 3, and 4) connections to shared experiences of discrimination, or inducing a similarity-seeking mindset in the context of discrimination faced by one’s ingroup (Experiment 5), increased support for policies benefiting the outgroup (Experiments 1, 2, and 4) and reduced intergroup bias (Experiments 3, 4, and 5). Taken together, these experiments provide converging evidence that highlighting shared experiences of discrimination can improve intergroup outcomes between stigmatized groups across dimensions of social identity. Implications of these findings for intraminority intergroup relations are discussed.

Burying the Hatchet? Elite Influence and White Opinion on the Washington Redskins Controversy
Tatishe Nteta, Elizabeth Sharrow & Melinda Tarsi
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Methods: In order to explore the potential for elite opinion leadership on white opinion, this article employs a survey experiment embedded in the 2014 Cooperative Congressional Election Study in which respondents were randomly exposed to a message attributed to either Senator Harry Reid (a Democrat), Senator John McCain (a Republican), or NBC Sports broadcaster Bob Costas that details their opposition to the team's name.

Results: Testing hypotheses derived from the scholarship on elite opinion theory, this article finds that exposure only to a message from Costas on this issue leads respondents to more strongly support a team name change and to more clearly view the term “Redskins” as offensive. Our results (1) further the scholarship on public opinion concerning Native American mascots, (2) suggest the conditions under which the barriers to change in sporting institutions may continue to evolve, and (3) speak to the limits of political elite influence.

Perpetual Inferiority: Whites’ Racial Ideology toward Latinos
Celia Olivia Lacayo
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, forthcoming


The author examines contemporary Latino racialization by focusing on whites’ attitudes toward Latinos. Drawing on 40 in-depth interviews with whites from Orange County, California, the findings show that this group of white Americans believes that Latino culture is deficient and inferior. Moreover, the respondents explicitly ascribe these problems to the group as a whole, regardless of national origin, citizenship status, or generation. The interviews reveal how whites construct Latinos as a racial group by explaining that Latinos pass down their “deficient” culture to the subsequent generation and thus are unable to change, adapt, and progress. In essence, whites perceive Latino cultural traits as fixed. By doing so, whites use cultural racism to function as biological racism. This reveals a racial ideology toward Latinos the author terms perpetual inferiority, which accounts for how whites construct Latinos as a nonwhite racial group that is unable to assimilate. This study demonstrates specifically how external ascription affects the racial formation process of Latinos and their position within the racial hierarchy.

Criminalized Masculinities: How Policing Shapes the Construction of Gender and Sexuality in Poor Black Communities
Forrest Stuart & Ava Benezra
Social Problems, forthcoming


With the intensification of policing and criminalization over the last three decades, residents of impoverished black communities are increasingly subject to street-level criminalization. This article examines how policing shapes the construction of gender and sexuality among its (potential) targets. Drawing on 12 months of fieldwork and interviews with 60 black youth living on Chicago’s South Side, we find that in order to reduce the probability of a stop-and-frisk, young black men engage in reflexive and embodied masculinity performances. Aware that officers are most likely to detain and interrogate individuals who outwardly display toughness, emotional restrictiveness, and a proclivity for violence associated with the “cool pose” and the “code of the street,” youth attempt to communicate their innocence by exaggerating displays of emotional sensitivity, caring, vulnerability, and passivity. They concretely do so by overemphasizing (and even feigning) romantic involvement in heterosexual relationships — a strategy they refer to as “getting cover.” Although “doing masculinity” in this manner may assist black youth in avoiding criminalization, it privileges dominant, mainstream (and often-unattainable) expressions of gender and sexuality while reinforcing hegemonic masculinity and heteronormativity. We offer a grounded, interactional framework for analyzing residents’ situational and contingent responses to criminalization, which are characterized by a far greater degree of agency and innovation than previously assumed.


Paradoxes of praise: Identity-inconsistent praise results in praise-inconsistent responses
Anna Rabinovich & Thomas Morton
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming


In four experimental studies we explored the effect of consistency between central group values and the content of group-directed praise on group-based esteem, group identification, and willingness to express attitudes and intentions (in)consistent with the content of praise. Study 1 used pre-existing groups with clearly defined central values, Study 2 relied on individual differences in perceptions of central group values within the same social group, and Studies 3 and 4 manipulated the centrality of group values experimentally. The results demonstrated that identity-inconsistent praise resulted in lower group-based esteem (Studies 1-4), and reduced group identification (Study 4), as compared to identity-consistent praise. In addition, in all studies identity-inconsistent praise led to stronger willingness to reaffirm (the ignored) central group characteristics than identity-consistent praise. The results are consistent with extensions of the self-verification approach to the collective self.

The weapon focus effect is weaker with Black versus White male perpetrators
Kerri Pickel & Danielle Sneyd
Memory, forthcoming


We compared the influence of a weapon’s presence on eyewitnesses’ memory for a White versus a Black male perpetrator. Prior data indicate that unusual objects in visual scenes attract attention and that a weapon’s effect depends on how unusual it seems within the context in which it appears. Therefore, given the stereotype linking Black men and weapons, we predicted a weaker weapon focus effect with the Black perpetrator. The results of Experiment 1 supported this hypothesis using White and Black witnesses. Moreover, in Experiment 2 the weapon focus effect became nonsignificant when the Black perpetrator wore a style of clothing that is strongly associated with Black men. We propose that observing an armed Black perpetrator automatically activates a stereotype linking Black men with weapons and crime, which in turn reduces the perceived unusualness of the weapon and thus its ability to attract attention.

“American = English Speaker” Before “American = White”: The Development of Children's Reasoning About Nationality
Jasmine DeJesus et al.
Child Development, forthcoming


Adults implicitly judge people from certain social backgrounds as more “American” than others. This study tests the development of children's reasoning about nationality and social categories. Children across cultures (White and Korean American children in the United States, Korean children in South Korea) judged the nationality of individuals varying in race and language. Across cultures, 5- to 6-year-old children (N = 100) categorized English speakers as “American” and Korean speakers as “Korean” regardless of race, suggesting that young children prioritize language over race when thinking about nationality. Nine- and 10-year-olds (N = 181) attended to language and race and their nationality judgments varied across cultures. These results suggest that associations between nationality and social category membership emerge early in life and are shaped by cultural context.


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.