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association seeking information

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 70 (2017) 8–18 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Journal of Experimental Social Psychology journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jesp Whites demonstrate anti-Black associations but do not reinforce them☆ , ☆☆ Jordan Axt ⁎, SophieTrawalter University of Virginia, United States HIGHLIGHTS • Whites associate Black faces with negativity, but also value appearing unprejudiced. • Whites completed a learning task pairing Blacks with positive or negative outcomes. • Participants learned anti-Black associations quickly but did not strengthen them. • Participants learned pro-Black associations more slowly but strengthened them. • Results highlight how attitudes and prejudice concerns impact race-related behavior. article info abstract Article history: Received 26 July 2016 Revised 17 November 2016 Accepted 25 November 2016 Available online xxxx White people often associate Black people with negative information and outcomes. At the same time, many White people value not being or appearing prejudiced. In an inter-race context, these two forces may conflict. Whites may be better able to acquire anti-Black associations that align with their existing explicit or implicit attitudes, but may be unmotivated to strengthen these associations because they oppose their egalitarian values. Across five studies (N N 1100) including two pre-registered designs, Whites given a learning task were better able to initially acquire anti-Black racial associations but were unable or unwilling to then reinforce these associations. Conversely, Whites were less able to initially acquire pro-Black racial associations but then acquired and strengthened these associations. Finally, Whites were still unwilling or unable to reinforce anti-Black associations even when given a non-racial justification to do so. These results highlight the distinct but related influences of attitudes and prejudice concerns on race-related behavior. © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. White Americans, on average, associate Black people with negativity (Nosek, Banaji, & Greenwald, 2002), and have an easy time learning that Black people are associated with negative information. Not surprisingly then, they have an easier time associating negative experiences (e.g., an electric shock) with Black vs. White faces (Olsson, Ebert, Banaji, & Phelps, 2005). For example, in one study, participants received a mild electric shock while viewing either Black or White target faces. Subsequently, they viewed Black and White target faces without receiving the electric shocks. All the while, researchers measured participants' skin conductance responses as a proxy for fear, and found that White participants who had been shocked while viewing Black vs. White ☆ Article in press, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. ☆☆ Author's note: Studies are numbered 1–5 for narrative style. Chronologically, studies were run in the following order: Study 1, Study 3a, Study 2, Study 3b, Study 4. ⁎ Corresponding author at: Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Box 400400, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4400, United States. E-mail address: jaxt@virginia.edu (J. Axt). target faces then had an easier time learning to fear the Black vs. White target faces, and also had a harder time unlearning this association between Black faces and negative outcomes. This pattern of results is consistent with the notion that Whites have an easy time associating Blacks with negative information. In the present work, we consider whether Whites also have an easier time associating Blacks with negativity when they are in control of seeking out informationinformation that could lead to anti-Black or pro- Black associations. There are reasons to believe that Whites may not have an easier time associating Blacks with negative information when they are in control of learning these associations. Biased information seeking and learning that Blacks are associated with negativity can signal that one is prejudiced, countering strong and widespread norms that racial bias is unacceptable. Many Whites value appearing and/or being unprejudiced (Plant & Devine, 1998), so much so that they avoid race-related discussions when possible (Apfelbaum, Norton, & Sommers, 2012; Trawalter & Richeson, 2008), and display their egalitarianism when threatened (Monin & Miller, 2001). For this reason, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2016.11.013 0022-1031/© 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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