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Reward Frustration Can Selectively Amplify Negative Own-Race Biases

Micah Amd


Published: 2023/12/01


White Americans, when incidentally angered, become more likely to exhibit ‘implicit biases’ towards racial groups perceived as hostile (Dasgupta, 2013). We explored Dasgupta’s claims across cohorts of White, Black and non-Black/non-White (non-BW) participants from the United States, classified along political ideology (liberal and conservative). All participants evaluated White and Black neutral male faces using implicit (time-restricted) and explicit scales. Before evaluations, negative affect was instrumentally induced for approximately half of our sample. Following Dasgupta (2013), we expected any latent racial biases would be ‘magnified’ across implicit measures for frustrated cohorts. This prediction was corroborated across White liberals and Black conservatives who, when frustrated, displayed less favorable implicit evaluations towards own-race faces. Along explicit measures, White and Black cohorts generated comparable levels of own-race evaluations, independent of ideology. This was not the case during other-race evaluations, where a general pro-Black bias was noted for liberals, and a pro-White bias for conservatives, independent of the evaluator’s race. These findings support the idea that liberals, being ideologically driven to promote equality, automatically favor disadvantaged groups, while conservatives, motivated to preserve the status quo, favor advantaged groups (Winegard et al., 2018). Keywords: Racial evaluations, Reward frustration, Political ideology

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