Date of Award

12-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Experimental Psychology

Major Professor

Michael A. Olson

Committee Members

Lowell A. Gaertner, Garriy Shteynberg, Victor E. Ray

Abstract

Egalitarian-oriented Whites tend to employ the strategy of “liking everyone,” as opposed to correcting for their automatic prejudices, as a means of avoiding prejudiced reactions (Zabel & Olson, 2014). Congruent with motivational theoretical perspectives regarding prejudice (i.e., Aversive Racism; Gaertner & Dovidio), I contend that a lack of introspection into one’s automatic prejudices due to a self-image threat may be driving this tendency. In the experiment I report here, I assessed the automatic racial attitudes of egalitarian- (high Concern) and conflict avoidance-motivated (high Restraint) Whites. Then, participants were randomly assigned to introspect (or not) on their automatic racial biases, as well as to self-affirm (or not) using a values importance task. Following, participants completed an impression formation task in which they rated Black and White targets. Results indicated that egalitarian-oriented (high Concern) individuals with pro-White automatically-activated attitudes corrected for their prejudices by providing greater pro-Black trait ratings when self-affirmation preceded racial attitude introspection. This pattern of prejudice correction did not occur among high Concern participants who introspected on their racial attitudes prior to being self-affirmed, or did not introspect or self-affirm at all. Findings are congruent with previous research attesting to the utility of self-affirmation in increasing attention to otherwise self-threatening information, and provide insights as to how the strategies employed by aversive racists and their negative implications may be reduced.

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