Kevin Lewis

December 20, 2018

People Make the Same Bayesian Judgment They Criticize in Others
Jack Cao, Max Kleiman-Weiner & Mahzarin Banaji
Psychological Science, forthcoming

When two individuals from different social groups exhibit identical behavior, egalitarian codes of conduct call for equal judgments of both individuals. However, this moral imperative is at odds with the statistical imperative to consider priors based on group membership. Insofar as these priors differ, Bayesian rationality calls for unequal judgments of both individuals. We show that participants criticized the morality and intellect of someone else who made a Bayesian judgment, shared less money with this person, and incurred financial costs to punish this person. However, participants made unequal judgments as a Bayesian statistician would, thereby rendering the same judgment that they found repugnant when offered by someone else. This inconsistency, which can be reconciled by differences in which base rate is attended to, suggests that participants use group membership in a way that reflects the savvy of a Bayesian and the disrepute of someone they consider to be a bigot.

When Can Exemplars Shape White Racial Attitudes? Evidence from the 2012 U.S. Presidential Campaign
Seth Goldman & Daniel Hopkins
International Journal of Public Opinion Research, forthcoming

Prior research finds that exposure to outgroup exemplars reduces prejudice, but it has focused on most-likely cases. We examine whether salient outgroup exemplars can reduce prejudice under more challenging conditions, such as when they are counter-stereotypical but not well-liked and the audience is heterogeneous and holds strong priors. Specifically, we assess the impact of the Obama exemplar under the less auspicious conditions of the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign. Using panel data, we find that racial prejudice declined during the campaign, especially among whites with the most exposure to Obama through political television. Liking Obama proved irrelevant to these effects, as did partisanship. Racial prejudice increased slightly after the campaign ended, but the effects remained largely intact weeks later.

Revealing Hidden Gender Biases in Competence Impressions of Faces
DongWon Oh, Elinor Buck & Alexander Todorov
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Competence impressions from faces affect important decisions, such as hiring and voting. Here, using data-driven computational models, we identified the components of the competence stereotype. Faces manipulated by a competence model varied in attractiveness (Experiment 1a). However, faces could be manipulated on perceived competence controlling for attractiveness (Experiment 1b); moreover, faces perceived as more competent but not attractive were also perceived as more confident and masculine, suggesting a bias to perceive male faces as more competent than female faces (Experiment 2). Correspondingly, faces manipulated to appear competent but not attractive were more likely to be classified as male (Experiment 3). When masculinity cues that induced competence impressions were applied to real-life images, these cues were more effective on male faces (Experiment 4). These findings suggest that the main components of competence impressions are attractiveness, confidence, and masculinity, and they reveal gender biases in how we form important impressions of other people.

An association between multiculturalism and psychological distress
Frank Samson
PLoS ONE, December 2018

Amidst increasing focus on rising rates of substance abuse and suicide among white Americans and extending prior research on intergroup attitudes and health, this study examines a novel factor associated with psychological distress: disagreement with multiculturalism. Using the Portraits of American Life Study (N = 2,292), logistic regressions indicate that for Whites and Hispanics, increased likelihood of psychological distress (depression, hopelessness and worthlessness) is associated with stronger disagreement with multiculturalism, measured as “If we want to create a society where people get along, we must recognize that each ethnic group has the right to maintain its own unique traditions.” For Blacks, however, attitudes toward multiculturalism are not associated with psychological distress. Future research might determine if these results can be replicated, and if so, identify the causal mechanism(s) at work.

The Ben Carson effect: Do voters prefer racialized or deracialized black conservatives?
Gregory John Leslie, Christopher Stout & Naomi Tolbert
Social Science Research, forthcoming

A plethora of research has explored how blacks and whites respond to deracialized and racialized outreach. However, these studies overwhelmingly focus on individuals' reactions to liberal black elites. We explore whether whites and/or blacks favor co-racial elites who take a conservative deracialized position in the form of support for privatizing social security or a conservative racialized position in the form of advocating for ending the norm of political correctness. Using an online experiment with an oversample of black respondents, we find that whites, and in particular white Republicans, have a strong preference for racialized black conservatives over deracialized black conservatives. In contrast, we find that blacks display a preference for deracialized co-racial conservatives, but view black and white racialized conservatives as being equally likeable.

Language Heightens the Political Salience of Ethnic Divisions
Efrén Pérez & Margit Tavits
Journal of Experimental Political Science, forthcoming

What makes people take ethnic divisions into account when judging politics? We consider here the possible effect of language. We hypothesize that speaking a minority tongue primes ethnic divisions, leading people to interpret politics more heavily through this prism. In two survey experiments with bilingual adults, we demonstrate that subjects assigned to interview in a minority language are indeed more likely to evaluate politics based on ethnic considerations: they rank ethnic relations as a more important political issue and they are more likely to correctly identify the anti-minority party in their political system. These results suggest that people may think about politics differently depending on the language they use.

The dynamic emergence of minimal groups
Christopher Michael Jackson et al.
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

The minimal group paradigm has consistently shown that people will discriminate to favor their own group over an out-group, even when both groups are created arbitrarily by an experimenter. But will people actually form groups that are so arbitrary? And could something as trivial as a randomly assigned name tag color serve as a fault line during group formation? In this study, we use in vivo behavioral tracking (IBT) to precisely and unobtrusively track samples of participants as they assort repeatedly into groups. We find that participants do form groups on the basis of their randomly assigned name tag colors, but that name tag homophily emerges over time, becoming stronger in subsequent groups. Our results suggest that people are unconsciously or consciously biased toward group similarity, even when similarities are essentially meaningless. Our study has implications for theories of intergroup relations and social identity. It also demonstrates the utility of applying real-time tracking to study group formation.

The Effects of Education on Beliefs about Racial Inequality
Geoffrey Wodtke
Social Psychology Quarterly, December 2018, Pages 273-294

It is commonly hypothesized that education promotes more “enlightened” beliefs about racial inequality, and many prior studies document that white Americans with higher levels of education are more likely to agree with structural rather than individualist explanations for black disadvantages. Nevertheless, an alternative perspective contends that the ostensibly liberalizing effects of education are highly superficial, while yet another perspective cautions that any association observed between education and racial attitudes may be due to unobserved confounding. This study evaluates these perspectives by estimating the effects of education on beliefs about racial inequality from a set of cross-sectional, sibling, and panel models. Consistent with prior research, results from cross-sectional models fit to the General Social Survey (GSS) suggest that education promotes a genuine belief in structural over individualist explanations for racial inequality. However, results from sibling and individual fixed-effects models fit, respectively, to the 1994 Study of American Families and to the 2006–2010 GSS three-wave panels suggest that these effects may be superficial and are likely inflated by unobserved confounding.

Mirror, mirror on the wall: Whose figure is the fairest of them all?
Toe Aung & Leah Williams
Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming

Although the “what is beautiful is good” phenomenon has been examined in animated Disney movies, studies have not investigated what makes a particular Disney princess more beautiful than the others. In our study, we further investigated what makes a particular Disney female character (n = 20) beautiful by measuring and analyzing their waist-to-hip ratios (WHRs). From evolutionary perspectives, lower WHRs in women signal high reproductive potential, and are attractive to men and ideal for women. Thus, we expected that animated Disney female characters that exhibit low WHRs should be perceived as good. Our analyses suggest that lower WHR is more commonly associated with Disney princesses than Disney female villains. In addition, we found that WHRs of Disney princesses (Mdn = 0.50, range = 0.31–0.69) were less varied than those of the villains (Mdn = 0.66, range = 0.47–1.29), suggesting that the “what is beautiful is good” stereotype is strongly reflected in the smaller WHRs of Disney princesses.

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