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Happiness and Stereotypic Thinking in Social Judgment

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Abstract

Four experiments examined the effects of happiness on the tendency to use stereotypes in social judgment. In each experiment, individuals who had been induced to feel happy rendered more stereotypic judgments than did those in a neutral mood. Exp 1 demonstrated this phenomenon with a mood induction procedure that involved recalling life experiences. Exps 2 and 3 suggested that the greater reliance on stereotypes evident in the judgments of happy individuals was not attributable to cognitive capacity deficits created by intrusive happy thoughts or by cognitively disruptive excitement or energetic arousal that may accompany the experience of happiness. In Exp 4, happy individuals again were found to render more stereotypic judgments, except under conditions in which they had been told that they would be held accountable for their judgments. These results suggest that although happy people's tendency to engage in stereotypic thinking may be pervasive, they are quite capable of avoiding the influence of stereotypes in their judgments when situational factors provide a motivational impetus for such effort. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
ATTITUDES AND SOCIAL COGNITION
Happiness and Stereotypic Thinking in Social Judgment
Galen
V.
Bodenhausen, Geoffrey
P.
Kramer, and Karin Siisser
Four experiments examined the effects of happiness on the tendency to use stereotypes in social
judgment. In each experiment, individuals who had been induced to feel happy rendered more
stereotypic judgments than did those in a neutral mood. Experiment
1
demonstrated this phenome-
non with a mood induction procedure that involved recalling life experiences. Experiments
2
and 3
suggested that the greater reliance on stereotypes evident in
the
judgments of happy individuals was
not attributable to cognitive capacity deficits created by intrusive happy thoughts or by cognitively
disruptive excitement or energetic arousal that may accompany the experience of happiness. In
Experiment 4, happy individuals again were found to render more stereotypic judgments, except
under conditions in which they had been told that they would be held accountable for their judg-
ments.
These results suggest that although happy people's tendency to engage in stereotypic thinking
may be pervasive, they are quite capable of avoiding the influence of stereotypes in their judgments
when situational factors provide a motivational impetus for such effort.
Discovering the conditions under which group stereotypes
are likely to be applied in forming impressions of and making
judgments about individuals has been an issue of perennial in-
terest in social
psychology.
Factors such
as
information overload
(Pratto & Bargh,
1991;
Stangor & Duan, 1991) and task diffi-
culty (Bodenhausen & Lichtenstein, 1987), for example, have
been shown to increase the social perceiver's reliance on stereo-
typic preconceptions (for a review, see Hamilton & Sherman,
in press). In the present research, we investigated the role of
emotion, specifically happiness, in the application of stereo-
types during social information processing. Does being happy
have any impact on the likelihood of stereotyping others? If
so,
what
is
the mechanism involved? It
was
these questions that we
sought to address.
Interest in the relationship between emotion and stereotyping
is certainly not
new.
However, previous attempts to understand
the role of affective experience in prejudice and stereotyping
have focused almost exclusively on the impact of negative emo-
tions.
Conventional wisdom indicates that it is during times of
stress,
anxiety, or hostility that prejudice and stereotypes are
most likely to emerge and exert their influence on social percep-
tion. Psychological research lends credence to the idea that an-
ger, conflict, frustration, and anxiety are indeed associated with
Galen V. Bodenhausen, Department of Psychology, Michigan State
University; Geoffrey P. Kramer, Department of
Social
and Behavioral
Sciences, Indiana University-Kokomo; Karin Siisser, Department of
Psychology, Vanderbilt University.
We are grateful to Linda Jackson and the anonymous reviewers for
their helpful comments on a previous version of this report.
Correspondence concerning
this
article should be addressed to Galen
V.
Bodenhausen, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University,
East Lansing, Michigan 48824-1117. Electronic mail may be sent to
galen@msu.edu.
the tendency to see the world through a stereotypic lens
(Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, & Sanford, 1950; Dol-
lard, Miller, Doob, Mowrer, & Sears, 1939; Greenberg et al.,
1990;
Greenberg, Simon, Pyszczynski, Solomon, & Chatel,
1992;
Peak, Muney, & Clay, 1960; Sherif
&
Sherif,
1953; Ste-
phan
&
Stephan,
1985;
Wills,
1981). From the standpoint of the
various theoretical ideas that are represented by the array of
research addressing the link between various negative emotions
and the phenomena of prejudice and stereotyping, negative
affect often
serves as
a motivational impetus for
these
processes.
Whether by displacement, projection, rationalization, or some
other defensive process, individuals in negative states may de-
rive some measure of relief or gratification by expressing their
prejudices and stereotypes toward outgroups. According to
these approaches, then, negative affect is the fuel for the fire of
prejudice and stereotyping. By implication, the experience of
happiness or contentment should provide little motivational
impetus to view others in stereotypic
terms.
Perhaps it
is
during
times of happiness that we are most likely to look beyond our
gross generalizations about outgroups.
Contemporary research on stereotyping has often deempha-
sized the motivational aspects of the phenomenon that were so
central to many earlier conceptualizations. Instead, the focus
has been on stereotyping as a mundane cognitive function that
provides simplification and structure to our subjective experi-
ence of the complex social milieu in which we live (Fiske &
Neuberg,
1990;
Hamilton, 1979;Rothbart,
1981).
Several stud-
ies suggest that stereotypes operate as heuristic cues in social
information processing, providing a basis for a quick response
to members of outgroups that may suffice whenever social per-
ceivers cannot, or prefer not to, engage in a more thoughtful
analysis of the unique personal qualities of specific outgroup
members (Bodenhausen, 1988, 1990; Bodenhausen & Lich-
tenstein, 1987; Bodenhausen & Wyer, 1985; see also Chaiken,
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1994, Vol. 66, No. 4, 621-632
Copyright
1994 by
the American Psychological Association,
Inc.
0022-3514/94/S3.00
621
622G. BODENHAUSEN, G. KRAMER, AND K. SUSSER
Liberman, & Eagly, 1989; Fiske & Neuberg, 1990; Gilbert &
Hixon, 1991). From this perspective, stereotyping is not moti-
vated by a need to cope with negative affective experience so
much as a need or desire to avoid extensive cognitive work. In
essence, stereotyping represents a functional shortcut strategy
for social information-processing tasks, a strategy that in fact
frees up cognitive resources for use on other tasks (Macrae,
Milne,
&
Bodenhausen, 1994).
What are the implications of happiness for stereotyping,
when viewed from the framework of contemporary social-cog-
nitive research? Although some recent research has begun to
investigate the impact of happiness on memory for and judg-
ments about social groups (e.g., Hamilton, Stroessner, &
Mackie,
1993;
Stroessner, Hamilton, & Mackie, 1992; Stroess-
ner
&
Mackie, 1992,
1993;
see Hamilton & Sherman, in press,
for a review), there has been very little direct evidence about
how happiness might affect the use of stereotypes in judgments
of individual group
members.
Two lines
of research can be iden-
tified that have some relevance to an understanding of how hap-
piness and stereotyping might be related in this
context.
One of
these is research on the mood congruency effect in social judg-
ment (e.g., Bower, 1991; Forgas & Moylan, 1987; Isen, 1987).
Essentially, this effect involves rendering judgments that are bi-
ased in the direction of one's prevailing mood. Happy people
thus would be expected to make more positive, favorable judg-
ments. Various models have been proposed to account for why
this would happen. The mood-as-information approach taken
by Schwarz and Clore
(1983,
1988) proposes that when people
are asked to make a judgment about some object
(X),
they often
use their gut reaction, asking themselves "How do I feel about
X?"
As long
as
it is plausible to them that their current feelings
(whatever their actual source) are at least partly a reaction to
X, they will tend to make judgments that are colored by their
momentary mood. At least insofar as negative stereotypes are
concerned, this implies that happy people may set aside their
unfavorable stereotypes of outgroups and reach more positive
assessments of members of these groups than do those in more
neutral moods. This approach is similar to the historical moti-
vational approaches in predicting less use of negative stereo-
types among those who are feeling happy.
A second line of contemporary research has different im-
plications.
A
growing body of evidence addressing the relation-
ship between emotional experience and social information pro-
cessing suggests that the type of strategy people use in perform-
ing a social judgment task may be determined in part by their
momentary emotional state (for reviews, see Bodenhausen,
1993;
Clark
&
Williamson,
1989;
Clore,
Schwarz,
&
Conway,
in
press;
Forgas, 1992a, 1992b; Schwarz, 1990; Sinclair & Mark,
1992).
Interestingly, the state of happiness has been associated
repeatedly with the use of more superficial or cursory styles of
thinking. Some of the most compelling
evidence
supporting this
proposition has emerged from research on mood and persua-
sion (Mackie & Worth, 1989,
1991;
Schwarz, Bless, & Bohner,
1991;
Worth & Mackie, 1987). These studies document that
when people are made happy prior to the presentation of a per-
suasive
message,
they are
less
affected by variations in argument
quality. Presumably, systematic analysis of a persuasive message
would result
in the
detection
and rejection of specious or weak
arguments, but happy people appear to accept weak messages
just as readily as those founded on stronger, more valid argu-
ments. Moreover, happy people seem to be more attuned than
those in a neutral or sad mood to simple heuristic cues present
in the persuasion situation; such cues permit a relatively quick
and easy response to the persuasive appeal (cf. Chaiken, 1980,
1987;
Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). Credibility cues such as ex-
pertise and trustworthiness are classic examples of cues that
form one basis for responding to a persuasive communication
that may largely circumvent cognitive elaboration of the
content of the message (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Thus, it ap-
pears that happy people often prefer to base their reactions to a
persuasive message more on simple cues such as the communi-
cator's putative expertise rather than engaging in close scrutiny
of the message content (see also Petty, Gleicher,
&
Baker, 1991).
The implications of
this
research for predictions about hap-
piness and stereotyping are provocative. It may be that happy
people, who show a preference for simple heuristic cues in per-
suasion situations, may also tend to rely more on simplistic ste-
reotypes in other social judgment situations. This prediction is
at odds with both conventional wisdom about the relationship
between mood and stereotyping and the implications of the tra-
ditional motivational theories of prejudice and stereotyping. It
also runs against the implications of the mood congruency
effect. According to previous theory and research, then, it is
somewhat unclear whether happiness will promote or inhibit
stereotypic thinking in the social perception of individuals who
happen to be members of stereotyped social groups. There are
precedents for expecting both outcomes. The initial experiment
reported in this article
was
intended to provide further evidence
on this
issue.
After documenting whether stereotyping
was
aug-
mented or reduced among happy people, a series of follow-up
studies was planned to examine mechanisms that might ac-
count for the observed effects.
Experiment 1
Concern about the impact of
social
stereotypes
on
judgment
processes has often focused on particularly consequential kinds
of judgment situations, such as decision making in organiza-
tional personnel contexts
(e.g.,
Terborg &
Ilgen,
1975)
and crim-
inal justice contexts
(e.g.,
Bodenhausen & Kramer, in press). It
is,
of course, a matter of considerable importance to determine
when and how members of stereotyped social groups are disad-
vantaged when it comes to perceptions of their guilt, their de-
servingness of parole, their likelihood of recidivism, their cred-
ibility as witnesses, and countless other perceptions relevant to
decision making
in
justice contexts. In the research reported in
this article, we focused on stereotyping in a situation that was
analogous to a criminal justice
setting.
The experiments
we
un-
dertook examined the role of happiness and stereotyping
in
stu-
dents'
perceptions of and judgments about their fellow students'
alleged misconduct.
Method
Overview and Design
We asked participants to engage in two ostensibly unrelated tasks.
The first task, which involved recalling prior experiences,
was
designed
HAPPINESS AND STEREOTYPIC THINKING623
to induce
a positive
mood in approximately one half of the participants.
Subjects then completed a social judgment task in which they read a
synopsis of a disciplinary hearing and
made
judgments about the case.
There were two different scenarios, one involving a case of alleged as-
sault and one involving a case of alleged cheating. The identity of the
student accused of each offense was varied
so
that he
was
either
a
mem-
ber of a group stereotypically associated with the offense or was not.
Thus,
the experiment
was a 2
(affect: happy
vs.
neutral)
X
2 (stereotype:
present vs. absent) between-subjects design that was tested within two
different scenarios and stereotypes.
Subjects
Participants were 94 undergraduates (21 men and 73 women) who
received course credit in return for their participation.
Materials and Procedures
Subjects participated in groups of approximately 8. Upon arrival at
the laboratory, participants were greeted by an experimenter who told
them that they would be involved in two different experiments, one
entitled "Mood and Memories" and one entitled "Students' Court."
They were seated at individual cubicles, the basic nature of the
first
task
was
explained, and subjects signed a consent form.
Mood
induction.
One half of the experimental sessions were ran-
domly assigned to the happy condition. Subjects in this condition were
told that the researchers were interested in the relationship between
emotion and memory, and that today they wanted to understand the
"psychological structure" of happy memories.
To
do
this,
subjects were
asked to recall, reexperience, and write about an event that had made
them particularly
happy.
Following
Strack,
Schwarz,
and Gschneidinger
(1985),
the instructions emphasized focusing on concrete, vivid, expe-
riential aspects of
the
event rather than on an abstract or objective as-
sessment of it. Strack et al. found this procedure to be most successful
in inducing a state of
happiness.
Subjects in the other condition were
told that the research involved the psychological structure of everyday
memory and were asked to recall and describe the mundane events of
the previous
day.
Approximately 12 min were allotted for the comple-
tion of this task. After subjects had finished writing, the experimenter
thanked them, collected their forms, and left.
Social judgment
task.
A new experimenter introduced the second
task, which was described as a study of legal socialization. The experi-
menter explained that some institutions of higher learning had adopted
adjudicatory
systems in
which students took responsibility for disciplin-
ary proceedings. To examine how this kind of system might work on
their own campus, the subjects were asked to take on the role of a stu-
dent member of
a
peer disciplinary review panel. They were asked to
read a case allegedly taken from another college campus and make de-
cisions about the appropriate response to the case.
After signing
a
consent form for the "Students' Court" study, all sub-
jects received a booklet containing (a) a participants characteristics
questionnaire, (b) a case description, (c) a brief questionnaire about the
case,
and (d) a probe for suspicions about the purpose of the study. The
demographic questionnaire requested information such
as
subjects' age
and sex, and asked them to rate themselves on several characteristics.
Each rating involved circling a number from 0 (not at alt) to 7 (ex-
tremely) that best reflected how applicable the characteristic was to
them at the moment. Embedded within fillers (e.g., conscientious,
bored)
was
an item designed to assess the effectiveness of the mood ma-
nipulation (happy).
Subjects received one of
two
cases, involving either an allegation of
assault (beating up a roommate) or cheating (on a mathematics exami-
nation). The case summary consisted of approximately
five
or six sen-
tences detailing the nature of the accusation and providing a mixture of
evidence, some implying innocence and some implying
guilt.
The iden-
tity of the student accused in each case
was
manipulated
so
that, for half
the subjects, he was identified as a member of a group stereotypically
associated with the alleged offense (stereotype condition), whereas for
the remainder he was not (no stereotype condition). Specifically, for the
case of assault, the student-defendant was given either
an
obviously
His-
panic name (Juan Garcia) or an ethnically nondescript name (John
Garner); for the cheating case, in one half of the booklets the target's
name was followed by the phrase "a well-known track-and-field athlete
on campus," whereas in the others, this phrase was omitted. A high
prevalence of endorsement of these stereotypes within the targeted sub-
ject population was established in previous research (see Bodenhausen,
1990).
Within sessions, subjects were randomly assigned to one of the
four possible combinations of offense type and stereotype activation.
After reading the
case,
subjects were asked to report the likelihood of
the accused student's guilt on an 11-point scale ranging from 0 (not at
all
likely)
to 10 (extremely
likely).
They were also asked to complete
some
filler
questions designed to match the alleged purpose of
the
ex-
periment (e.g., To what extent could a peer discipline system work on
our campus?). Upon completion of the case questionnaire, subjects
were probed for suspicions about the research, then they were given an
educational debriefing and dismissed.
Results and Discussion
Manipulation Check
Effectiveness of the mood manipulation
was
assessed
by
com-
paring subjects' self-ratings of happiness in the happy and neu-
tral mood conditions.
As
intended, subjects in the happy condi-
tion rated themselves as significantly happier than their neutral
mood counterparts (Ms = 4.29 and 3.72, respectively),
t(92)
=
2.]4,p<
.025, one-tailed.
Perceived Guilt
If traditional motivational approaches to stereotyping and
prejudice are correct in asserting that these phenomena are
driven by a need to cope with negative states, then we might
expect those who are feeling happy to be particularly unlikely
to show evidence of stereotypic thinking. On the other hand, if
happy people are more inclined to use mental shortcuts, it may
be that happy people stereotype more than those in a neutral
mood. Data relevant to this issue are depicted in Figure
1.
The
HAPPY NEUTRAL
AFFECT CONDITION
I STEREOTYPE H NO STEREOTYPE
Figure
1.
Mean perceived guilt as a function of stereotype activation
and emotional state (Experiment 1).
624G. BODENHAUSEN, G. KRAMER, AND K. SUSSER
data were collapsed across offense type, as this variable exhib-
ited no interactions with other independent variables, ps > .25.
Inspection of Figure
1
reveals that, among neutral mood sub-
jects,
stereotyped targets were treated no differently than non-
stereotyped targets, suggesting that these subjects based their
judgments on the implications of the specific case evidence pro-
vided. However, happy mood subjects'judgments of the stereo-
typed target were significantly more negative than their judg-
ments of the nonstereotyped target, p < .01. Overall, the in-
teraction of mood and stereotype activation was marginally
significant, F(l, 90) =
2.88,
p < .09.
Consistent with the persuasion literature described pre-
viously,
these
data
show a
greater reliance on stereotypes among
happy subjects. Conventional wisdom notwithstanding, it
seems that members of stereotyped social groups can be disad-
vantaged
as
a result of the positive moods of social perceivers. It
is
unclear, however, exactly why this
is
so.
The remaining exper-
iments were undertaken with the goal of better understanding
the process producing more stereotypic judgments
among
those
who are feeling happy.
Experiment 2
Why might happiness induce a greater tendency to stereo-
type,
or to use any other kind of cognitive shortcut for that
matter? Explanations for social perceivers' use of heuristic pro-
cessing strategies typically focus on limitations of momentary
cognitive capacity or motivation (Chaiken et al., 1989; Fiske &
Neuberg, 1990; Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). One possibility that
seems particularly plausible in accounting for the results of Ex-
periment
1
might
be
called the cognitive distraction hypothesis.
According to this view (cf. Mackie & Worth, 1989), happy peo-
ple have less cognitive capacity for social information process-
ing tasks because a portion of their cognitive resources is eaten
up by rumination on happy thoughts and the life events that
have evoked one's current happiness.
As
a result of diminished
capacity for more extensive processing, perceivers rely to a
greater extent on mental shortcuts, when available, to guide
their reactions to social stimulus input. This view seems partic-
ularly plausible in accounting for the findings reported in Ex-
periment
1
because the mood induction required subjects to fill
their minds with happy thoughts. It is quite likely that these
happy thoughts are retained longer in short-term memory (the
"workspace") than the neutral, mundane thoughts elicited
among control group subjects, and these persisting thoughts
may well distract the social perceiver from devoting full atten-
tion to other social perception tasks at hand.
In our
first
conceptual replication of Experiment
1,
we
sought
to determine the validity of this capacity-based argument as an
explanation for happy subjects' greater reliance on social ste-
reotypes. Experiment 2 sought specifically to address the im-
portance of distracting thoughts in producing the tendency
among happy people to exhibit more stereotypic
judgments.
In
this
experiment,
we
used a mood induction procedure that does
not require the imposition of
any cognitive
load.
Specifically, we
used a facial feedback procedure to directly produce subjective
happiness. Previous research shows that contraction of facial
muscles into
poses
associated with the expression of an emotion
can also induce the subjective experience of the particular emo-
tion (Adelman & Zajonc, 1989; Duclos et al., 1989; Ekman,
Levenson,
&
Friesen,
1983),
and this has been found even when
using an elaborate and clever ruse to eliminate demand charac-
teristics (Strack, Martin,
&
Stepper,
1988).
If this procedure re-
sults in levels of subjective happiness similar to those reported
by subjects who were made happy with the memory elicitation
procedure (Experiment 1), but it is not associated with any
greater level of stereotyping, this would provide support for the
notion that it is distracting happy thoughts that produce a
greater reliance on stereotypes. This pattern would be consis-
tent with the claim that only when happiness is accompanied
by rumination about specific happy circumstances does it pro-
mote a tendency to stereotype others.
Method
Subjects and Design
We
randomly assigned
51
participants
(37
women and
14
men) to a
2
(Affect: happy
vs.
neutral)
X
2 (Stereotype: present
vs.
absent) between-
subjects design. All subjects were undergraduates recruited from intro-
ductory psychology classes. They received course credit in return for
their participation.
Materials and Procedures
Upon arrival at
the
laboratory, participants
were
greeted
by
an exper-
imenter who described the purpose of the study, entitled "Cognitive-
Motor Coordination." It was explained that the researchers were inter-
ested in the extent to which the part of the brain that controls motor
behavior is independent of the part of the brain that controls higher
thought
processes.
To
study
this,
subjects would be asked to engage in a
cognitive and a motor task simultaneously. The "motor" task
was
actu-
ally the mood induction procedure. Under happy conditions, subjects
were given the task of contracting the zygomaticus muscle (producing a
smile).
The term smile
was
never used; instead, subjects were individu-
ally instructed in terms of specific muscle contractions until the pose
successfully emulated a smile. In the control condition, subjects were
simply instructed to loosely contract their nondominant hand into a
fist.
Once
they had
the
proper
pose,
subjects
were
instructed to maintain
the pose while working on the "cognitive" task, which was the same
Students' Court task used in Experiment
1.
In this
case,
only the cheat-
ing scenario
was
used.
Subjects completed the same questionnaires as in Experiment 1, in-
cluding a mood manipulation check and case judgments, focusing pri-
marily on assessments of the guilt of the student accused in the
case.
In
addition, in
line
with the experimental cover
story,
they completed some
questions assessing how difficult it was for them to engage in both tasks
simultaneously. We were particularly interested to know whether the
facial pose (happy condition) was any more difficult or distracting than
the fist pose (neutral condition). Following completion of a probe for
suspicions about the purpose of the study, participants received an edu-
cational debriefing and
were
dismissed.
Results and Discussion
Manipulation Checks
Analysis of subjects' self-ratings of happiness, collected as
part of the participant characteristics questionnaire, revealed
that participants in the happy smile condition were indeed sig-
nificantly happier than those in the neutral
fist
condition (Ms =
4.62
vs.
3.76), r(49) = 1.96, p
<
.025,
one-tailed.
HAPPINESS AND STEREOTYPIC THINKING625
Subjects were also asked to report how difficult it was to co-
ordinate the cognitive and motor
tasks.
This provides one basis
for determining whether the two muscular contraction tasks
were differentially distracting or
taxing.
Comparison of this rat-
ing between subjects in the facial versus hand contraction task
revealed that both tasks were rated as equally distracting, (F <
1).
Thus, the
two tasks
differed in
how
happy they made subjects
feel, but they did not differ in how distracting they were.1
Perceived Guilt
If distracting mental content is the reason that happy people
showed greater reliance on stereotypes in Experiment
1,
then it
was expected that people who are made happy by a means that
does not require filling the mind with happy ideas would not
show the same stereotyping
tendency.
Data relevant to this pre-
diction are presented in Figure 2. Contrary to this hypothesis,
people made happy by a facial feedback process showed the
same proclivity for stereotyping in their perceptions of the ac-
cused student's guilt
as
did people made happy by
a
reminiscing
procedure. The interaction of mood and stereotype activation
was significant, F(l, 47) = 4.90, p < .05, with significantly
greater perceptions of guilt among the happy subjects who con-
sidered a stereotyped target.
These
findings
cast doubt upon the cognitive-distraction in-
terpretation, which holds that happy thoughts are distracting
people in a good mood, constraining their capacity for system-
atic thinking about other topics or persons. People in the smile
pose condition, although happier than control subjects, were no
more distracted by their posing task, nor were they any more
likely to spontaneously generate random, distracting thoughts.
Yet they were significantly more likely to render judgments in
line with their stereotypic preconceptions. This implies that
something
else
about happiness must be responsible for the ten-
dency to use stereotypes to a greater extent.
Revelle and Loftus (1992) have cautioned that so-called
mood effects are often actually arousal effects. Perhaps happi-
ness is associated with some kind of physiological arousal that
disrupts coordinated
thought.
According
to
this arousal-disrup-
tion hypothesis, happiness may have some cortical concomi-
tants that constrain the capacity of working memory or other-
HAPPY (SMILE) NEUTRAL (HAND)
AFFECT CONDITION
wise disrupt the flow of thought, making the use of simple re-
sponse strategies more appealing. Thayer (1989) has contrasted
energetic arousal with tense arousal. He noted that, whereas
tense arousal is strongly associated with negative affect, ener-
getic arousal covaries strongly with positive affect. Obviously,
the energetic arousal associated with being happy does not
render us incapable of maintaining a train of thought, but it
may provide some degree of disruption (for a more extensive
review of relevant evidence, see Bodenhausen, 1993), and pre-
sumably the amount of such disruption would be in proportion
to the amount of cortical arousal associated with the happy
state.
It is possible that in thinking back to an event that made
them extremely happy, subjects in Experiment
1
may have ex-
perienced a measure of arousal that imposed some degree of
constraint on their cognitive capacity. This is somewhat differ-
ent from simply ruminating on happy thoughts, as it may in-
volve a more physiological kind of capacity constraint. There is
a body of evidence relating arousal, per
se,
to stereotyping (e.g.,
Bodenhausen, 1990; Kim & Baron, 1988), so if happiness pro-
duces its own kind of arousal, it may be by this means that it
produces a tendency to stereotype others. This arousal disrup-
tion hypothesis is still viable in light of the data from Experi-
ment 2, because it has been previously shown that facial feed-
back mood induction procedures produce the same syndrome
of physiological responses as a reminiscence-based procedure
(Ekman et al., 1983; Levenson, Ekman, & Friesen, 1990). Ex-
periment
3
directly examined the plausibility of the arousal dis-
ruption hypothesis.
Experiment 3
The notion that there
is some
kind of physiological disruption
associated with happiness implies that happy states that are low
in their level of energetic arousal (e.g., serenity or contentment)
should not produce the same degree of heuristic (or stereotypic)
thinking as happy states that are higher in this quality (e.g., ex-
citement or
exhilaration).
If the hypothesis
has
merit,
one
would
expect to observe
a
greater degree of stereotyping in social judg-
ments made by those experiencing greater levels of happy
arousal. For Experiment
3,
we
wanted to
find
a mood induction
procedure that would allow
us
to produce happiness that varied
in its energetic arousal component, or more colloquially, in the
level of excitement that accompanied the subjective happy state.
Ideally, the overall amount of happiness would not differ be-
tween conditions, but the level of excitement associated with the
happiness would differ. A musical mood induction seemed well
suited for this purpose. As any music lover could testify, there
exists happy music that produces a surge of energy and excite-
ment, but there also exists happy music that produces a sense of
tranquility and calm. Through extensive pilot testing, we iden-
tified musical selections that produced each of these desired
effects. From the perspective of the arousal disruption hypothe-
sis,
happy states characterized by excitement and agitation
I
STEREOTYPE NO STEREOTYPE
Figure
2.
Mean perceived guilt as a function of stereotype activation
and type of muscle pose (Experiment 2).
1 In a pretest, we also asked subjects engaging in these two poses to
list any thoughts that came spontaneously to mind while contracting
the assigned
muscle
groups.
Very few
thoughts
were
listed, and the num-
ber did not differ between the smile and the
fist
conditions.
626G. BODENHAUSEN,
G.
KRAMER,
AND K.
SUSSER
should produce greater disruption, or processing constraints,
therefore leading to an increased use of stereotypes, when avail-
able,
as an efficient strategy for generating a response under the
conditions of constraint. Calm, serene music, although produc-
ing equivalent amounts of happiness per se, should have much
less disruptive influence on processing.
Method
Subjects
Fifty-three undergraduates participated
in
return
for
credit
in
their
introductory psychology course.
Of
these,
28
were
men and 25
were
women.
Procedures
and Materials
Music
pretest.
Several selections of music were pretested in terms of
their influence on subjects' level of happiness and level of felt energetic
arousal. Subjects sat in individual cubicles and listened to
a
single mu-
sical selection. Each selection lasted approximately
10
min. Subjects
were instructed simply to close their eyes and listen to the music. They
were
told that they would be asked some questions about their reactions
to the music afterward. When the musical selection had
finished,
they
were given
a
questionnaire asking them
to
list
the
thoughts they
had
while listening
to
the music and
to
rate their momentary
levels
of several
characteristics, including happy and energetic, on
a
7-point
scale rang-
ing from 0
(not
at
all)
to 6
(extremely).
The questionnaire also included
several
filler
items
concerning,
for
example,
subjects' evaluations of var-
ious styles of music.
Only data relevant
to the
chosen selections
are
described.
For the
happy and excited (HE) music,
we
chose a section of music from Boro-
din's
Prince
Igor.
The selection comes from
a
vigorous dance sequence,
and it
is
clearly very arousing and invigorating. For the happy and calm
(HC)
music,
we
chose a section of music from Delius'S/4 Village Romeo
and Juliet
("The Walk Through Paradise Garden") that is particularly
relaxing
and
serene. Both selections were instrumental only (i.e.,
no
verbal content). For comparison purposes, we also
had
some subjects
listen to a selection of neutral
(N)
music
("Solar
Winds"
by Hykes) that,
although clearly not aversive, seemed minimal
in
its impact on the ca-
sual listener. Both the HE and HC musical selections produced higher
levels of happiness than did
the
N music
(Ms:
HE = 5.67, HC
=
5.91,
N
= 4.50; ps
<
.05). However,
the HE and
HC selections
did not
differ
from each other
in the
amount
of
happiness they engendered
in the
listeners,
(p >
.75).
Analysis of the energetic ratings showed that the HC
and
N
selections did
not
differ from each other (p > .50),
but
the
HE
selection produced significantly higher levels
of
excitement
(ps
<
.05;
Ms:
HE =
5.33,
HC =
3.46,
N =
2.80). Finally, analysis
of
thought
listing data revealed no differences among the three music selections in
terms of the number of thoughts reported while listening
to
the music
(p > .50). Thus,
the
HE
and
HC selections met the criteria we estab-
lished in that they produced comparable
levels
of happiness but differed
in the level of felt energetic arousal associated with that state.
Main
study.
Subjects were recruited for a study of music perception.
When they reported to the laboratory in groups of four, they were told
that because of the brevity of the music study, an additional, unrelated
study would take place during the session. After being seated at individ-
ual cubicles, subjects were told that their task was simply
to
listen
to a
selection
of
music and then answer some questions about it. Approxi-
mately one half of the subjects listened to the HE music (i.e., the Boro-
din selection),
and the
remainder listened
to the HC
music (i.e.,
the
Delius
selection).
After listening
to
the music, subjects made several bo-
gus ratings
of it and then went
on to the
second
task,
the
Students'
Court.
The same materials
were
used again, under the same instructional con-
ditions
as
before. Subjects were randomly assigned within sessions
to
receive either
a
stereotypic
or a
nonstereotypic case. They completed
the same dependent measures (case judgments, demographic profile) as
did subjects in the previously reported experiments. Again, the crucial
dependent variable
was
subjects' ratings of the apparent guilt of the stu-
dent accused
in
the case they read. After
a
probe
for
suspicions about
the purpose
of
the experiment, subjects received
an
educational
de-
briefing and were dismissed.
Results
and Discussion
Support for the arousal disruption hypothesis would emerge
if subjects in the happy, excited condition showed stronger evi-
dence of stereotypic judgments than did happy, calm subjects.
The means relevant to this prediction are shown in Figure 3.
Contrary to the arousal disruption hypothesis, the data revealed
only a main effect of stereotype activation,
F(
1,
49) =
4.91,
p <
.05.
The size of the difference between ratings of stereotyped
versus nonstereotyped targets was almost identical in both the
happy, excited and the happy, calm conditions. Thus, as before,
happy people show evidence of stereotypic bias in their judg-
ments,
but the amount of this bias appears to be independent of
the degree of excitement or arousal inherent in their happy
state.
Although they were significantly less excited after listen-
ing to their musical selection, HC subjects
were
just as likely to
stereotype as their HE counterparts.
Given these results, it becomes fairly implausible to assume
that there is any kind of disruptive arousal driving the stereo-
typing effect consistently observed among happy people. It ap-
pears that there is something about being in a pleasant state that
promotes the tendency to stereotype, regardless of whether this
state involves ruminating about happy ideas or feeling excited
or energized by the experience. What, then, can explain this
tendency? A third hypothesis relies less on arguments about
constrained capacity and more on links between emotional
states and patterns of cognitive motivation. According to the
effort conservation hypothesis, happy people may simply be less
motivated to think very systematically about the external envi-
ronment. Schwarz (1990) has articulated an evolutionary ratio-
nale for this view (and provided empirical support for it; see,
e.g., Bless, Bohner, Schwarz, & Strack, 1990; Schwarz & Bless,
1991).
Whereas negative moods signal the existence of
a
prob-
HAPPY-ENERGETIC HAPPY-CALM
AFFECT CONDITION
I STEREOTYPE
H
NO STEREOTYPE
Figure
3.
Mean perceived guilt as
a
function
of
stereotype activation
and musical arousal level (Experiment 3).
HAPPINESS AND STEREOTYPIC THINKING627
lem that needs to be solved, happy moods signal satisfaction
with the current
state.
Happiness
is a
kind of safety
signal,
indi-
cating that there is no current need for problem solving. If one
makes the plausible assumption that emotional states are asso-
ciated with cognitive strategies that are most effective for the
kinds of situations in which the emotion typically arises, it is
logical to propose that unhappy people will think more deeply
about their social environment (in an effort to solve their prob-
lems;
see
Edwards
&
Weary,
1993;
Weary,
1990)
whereas happy
people can contentedly coast on cruise control, not bothering to
think very
deeply
about surrounding events
unless they
impinge
directly on their
well-being.
According to this view, happy peo-
ple
are not incapable of thinking systematically
(because
of con-
straints on cognitive
capacity);
rather, they simply often choose
not to do so, unless their own outcomes are at stake (Forgas,
1989) or they enjoy the cognitive task and thus have some in-
trinsic motivation. Perhaps happy people, when asked to judge
the likelihood of a defendant's guilt, simply prefer not to exert
much effort, especially if
there
is a viable shortcut or heuristic
cue available that
provides the
basis for
a less
effortful response.
Regardless of the source or nature of a pleasant or happy
state,
it seems to signal a retreat from deeper, more systematic
thinking, at least for tasks lower in interest and personal rele-
vance. If a reduction in cognitive motivation is what is really
behind the tendency for happy people to stereotype more, then
a manipulation that makes task performance seem more conse-
quential to subjects should be able to compensate for the moti-
vational deficits characterizing happy people. This possibility
was
explored in a fourth and final experiment.
Experiment 4
Research in the domain of persuasion has shown that, what-
ever the factors producing a tendency for happy people to pro-
cess persuasive messages less systematically, happy people are
indeed capable of responding appropriately to variations in ar-
gument quality if they are explicitly instructed to attend to the
arguments (Schwarz et al., 1991). This clearly indicates that, if
there are any cognitive constraints on processing ability im-
posed by the experience of happiness (as the cognitive distrac-
tion and arousal disruption hypotheses would have it), these
constraints are easily surmountable. This strongly suggests that
cognitive or epistemic motivation is what is really lacking in
happy
people.
In the
final
study,
we
examined the issue of happy
people's responsiveness to motivational cues in a stereotyping
context.
When social perceivers are concerned about the accuracy of
their impressions and evaluations of social stimuli, they should
be more attuned to the implications of specific available evi-
dence
and should rely
less on
simple
cues or
generalized precon-
ceptions (Kruglanski,
1989).
One way to induce this concern is
to hold people accountable for their judgments and evaluations
(Tetlock,
1983;
Tetlock & Kim, 1987). Telling people that they
will be held accountable for the quality of their judgments, and
that
they
must
be able
to defend the
decisions they
make,
should
have the effect of motivating more systematic thought. What
happens when happy people are told that they will be held ac-
countable for the quality of their judgments? One possibility is
that accountability cues will provide a sufficient motivational
impetus to overcome any resource-conserving tendency on the
part of happy people. If
so,
they may show a pattern of judg-
ments that
is
quite similar to neutral mood subjects. That
is,
all
subjects may be evidence focused, and if they all have the same
evidence, they will all form similar judgments. If, on the other
hand, happy people still show a greater stereotyping tendency
even in the presence of accountability cues, this would suggest
either that (a) their resource-conservation mode of thinking is
not easy to modify, or (b) perhaps there is some kind of basic
constraint that makes systematic thought more problematic for
happy people. The latter possibility seems unlikely, given the
results of our previous studies, and both possibilities seem un-
likely given the results of Schwarz et al. (1991) in their persua-
sion research.
Thus,
we
expected that the stereotyping tendency
evidenced by happy people in the previous three studies would
be
eliminated upon the activation of accountability cues.
Method
Subjects and Design
Participants were 131 undergraduates (93 women and 38 men) who
received credit in their introductory psychology course for participat-
ing. Participants were randomly assigned to one of eight conditions de-
fined by a
2
(Mood: happy
vs.
neutral)
X 2
(Stereotype
Activation:
pres-
ent
vs.
absent)
X
2 (Accountability: low
vs.
high) between-subjects fac-
torial design.
Materials
and Procedures
The same materials and procedures used in Experiment
1
were used
again. That
is,
subjects participated in two ostensibly unrelated experi-
ments.
The
first
was
actually a mood induction task based on a reminis-
cence procedure. The second was the Students' Court task. Under low
accountability conditions, the methodology of Experiment
1
was repli-
cated exactly. Subjects in the social perception task were simply asked
to read the case they were given and make some judgments about it.
At the end of the instructions for the social perception task, they were
reminded that their judgments would be completely
anonymous.
In the
high
accountability
conditions,
however,
the reminder about anonymity
was deleted, and in its place was the following statement, in bold type-
face:
"Bear in mind that you will be held accountable for your judg-
ment, just as if you
were
a judge on a real peer discipline
panel.
That is,
you will
have
to be able to justify the decisions that you
make
about the
case you read." After reading the instructions, subjects turned the page
to find a description of a case concerning either a stereotypic or a non-
stereotypic offender and the usual questionnaire items. Only one new
item was added to evaluate the effectiveness of the accountability ma-
nipulation. For this item, subjects were asked to rate how strongly they
felt that it was necessary to be able
to
justify their judgments about the
case.
This rating was made on a 10-point scale ranging from 0 (not at
alt)
to
10
(extremely).
After completing the questionnaires and a probe
for
suspicions,
subjects
were
debriefed and dismissed.
Results and Discussion
Manipulation
Checks
Subjects' self-ratings of happiness confirmed that those in the
happy condition were significantly happier than those in the
neutral mood condition (Ms = 6.76 and 6.06, respectively, p <
.025,
one-tailed). In addition, subjects in the high accountabil-
ity condition reported feeling
a
greater need to be
able
to justify
628G. BODENHAUSEN, G. KRAMER, AND K. SUSSER
their judgments than those in the low accountability conditions
(Ms = 5.90 vs. 5.20, respectively, p < .05, one-tailed). Thus,
both the affect and the accountability manipulations were
effective.
Social Judgment Task
The low accountability conditions constituted an empirical
replication of Experiment 1, so we expected to find the same
pattern of results (i.e., greater stereotyping in the social judg-
ments of happy
people).
Under conditions of high accountabil-
ity, however, we expected happy people to be no different from
neutral mood subjects because they would become more data-
based in their social information processing. The data relevant
to these predictions are presented in Table 1.
It is clear that
the
judgments rendered by subjects in the low
accountability conditions show the same pattern as that ob-
served in previous
experiments:
Happy subjects made more ste-
reotypic judgments than did those in the neutral condition
(p
<
.05).
However, the judgments of the accountable subjects
showed quite a different pattern. The interaction of affect con-
dition, accountability, and stereotype activation
was
statistically
significant, F(l, 122) = 5.55, p < .025. Not only did the ac-
countable happy people not show a greater stereotypic bias in
their judgments, they showed a trend toward reduced percep-
tions of the guilt of the stereotyped target
(p < .
15).
In any case,
it
is
clear that,
as
expected, happy subjects
were
quite capable of
avoiding stereotypic judgments when given some motivational
impetus to do so.
General Discussion
In each experiment reported, happy people who were simply
asked to make
some
judgments about a case of alleged student
misbehavior were significantly more likely to render harsher
judgments about a stereotyped judgment target than were peo-
ple in a neutral mood. This
finding
is noteworthy in several re-
spects. Whereas the bulk of prior research on affect and stereo-
typing has emphasized the role of negative affect of one kind or
another in the elicitation of stereotypic responses to outgroup
members
(see
Bodenhausen, Sheppard,
&
Kramer,
1994;
Esses,
Haddock,
&
Zanna, 1993), the present
findings
show that posi-
tive affect can also elicit these responses. Although these find-
ings in no way cast doubt on the possibility that negative states
such as frustration or anxiety can produce increases in preju-
dice and stereotyping, they do clearly show that negative states
are not necessary for this to occur, and indeed, positive moods
can (perhaps for very different reasons) produce similar sorts of
Table 1
Perceived Guilt as a Function
of
Accountability,
Mood,
and
Stereotype
Activation (Experiment
4)
Condition
Stereotype
No stereotype
Not accountable
Happy
6.94
5.69
Neutral
5.58
6.44
Accountable
Happy
5.84
6.78
Neutral
6.94
6.60
heightened stereotyping. Interestingly, Bodenhausen et al.
(1994),
using the
same experimental paradigm
as
in the current
Experiment 1, found that angry subjects produced a pattern of
stereotypic judgments comparable to the happy subjects in the
present experiments, whereas sad subjects did not. These find-
ings collectively suggest that previous views about the connec-
tions between affect and stereotyping have been overly simplis-
tic.
The general claim that heightened stereotyping
is
associated
with negative affect fails to recognize that (a) not all negative
states seem to follow this pattern, and (b) positive states can also
produce the same pattern.
The findings reported also failed to match expectations de-
rived from research on the mood congruency effect in social
judgment. Although there were some mood congruency trends
for judgments of the nonstereotyped target
(i.e.,
happy subjects
judged the nonstereotyped target somewhat more leniently than
did neutral mood subjects), happy subjects considering a ste-
reotypic case certainly did not show more leniency toward the
target of the
case.
This suggests that the tendency toward mood
congruency in
social
judgment
is
qualified by other factors, one
of which maybe happy people's preferential use of simple judg-
ment heuristics, even if these have negative implications.
One implication of our main finding is that people who are
in a good mood, for whatever reason, and who happen to hear
about the alleged stereotypic behavior of an outgroup member
(e.g., in a news report, overheard gossip), are likely to jump to
stereotypic conclusions about the matter. They may decide that
the allegation has substance, irrespective of the availability or
implications of specific facts in the case. Such allegations,
sufficiently documented in the imaginations of happy people,
may constitute a type of mental confirmation of stereotypic be-
liefs that is not distinguished in memory from actual, proven
incidents (cf. Slusher
&
Anderson, 1987). Although the present
research examined only one judgment domain (perceptions of
misbehavior), it is a particularly important one for social per-
ception of many stigmatized
outgroups.
The most damaging
so-
cial stereotypes are those that associate outgroup membership
with tendencies toward engaging in undesirable, socially unac-
ceptable,
or
criminal practices. The present research
shows
that
feeling good tends to increase the extent to which such stereo-
types are applied in making judgments of individual members
of stigmatized outgroups.
Why do happy people produce more stereotypic judgments?
These experiments provided little support for the idea that hap-
piness promotes stereotypic thinking by constraining the per-
ceiver's capacity for more systematic thought. Given that the
same results emerged
even
when the mood induction procedure
did not involve any particular cognitive content
(e.g.,
the facial
feedback procedure of Experiment 2 or the music of Experi-
ment 3) and did not involve any differential elicitation of ran-
dom thoughts, it seems fairly unlikely that happy people are
necessarily too caught up in happy ruminations to think deeply
about the social world. By the same token, the idea that happy
people experience some kind of disruptive arousal or excitement
seems unlikely given that happy subjects do not stereotype to any
greater extent than
do
calm,
happy subjects (Experiment 3).
The effort conservation hypothesis is compatible with the
patterns emerging
across all
four
experiments.
According to this
HAPPINESS AND STEREOTYPIC THINKING629
view, happy people simply are not motivated to engage in cog-
nitive effort, unless the tasks requiring such effort have some
direct bearing on their own well-being or enjoyment. Experi-
ment 4 showed that, if made to feel accountable, happy subjects
become quite unlikely to render stereotypic judgments. Pre-
sumably, by making them feel that their own outcomes could
be affected by the nature of their performance on the judgment
task (e.g., if they could not justify a negative reaction and thus
might
be
suspected of prejudice, which would
be
an undesirable
outcome for most
people),
they became motivated to avoid ste-
reotypic
bias.
Along
similar
lines,
Forgas (1989)
showed that the
more heuristic or impulsive judgment strategies of happy peo-
ple are only likely to emerge if their own outcomes were not
contingent upon the quality of their judgments. The costs of
effort conservation may be considerable for the targets of social
stereotyping, but for the stereotyping
perceiver,
the
costs
of over-
generalization may often be minimal, or they may be out-
weighed by benefits such as preservation of cognitive resources
(Macrae et
al.,
1994) or mood maintenance.
The fact that accountable subjects did not show the same ste-
reotyping tendency
as
their nonaccountable counterparts might
also be
interpreted in other
ways.
For
example,
it
is
possible that
being told that one must justify one's judgments is somewhat
threatening and unpleasant, and as such it may counteract the
positive mood induction, eliminating
its
effects. Although plau-
sible,
it
is
unclear
why this
process would produce
a
tendency to
avoid stereotypic thinking
among the
(formerly) happy subjects.
Alternatively, the accountability manipulation may have simply
aroused social desirability concerns, leading to an avoidance of
stereotypic responses. This avoidance would therefore not nec-
essarily be based on being more thoughtful or systematic in
one's information processing as a result of the accountability
manipulation. This account is also plausible, but the reasoning
would seem to apply equally well to the neutral mood subjects.
They, too, should be subject to social desirability concerns and
should avoid harsh judgments of the stereotyped target. But
they did not. Their judgments were among the harshest ob-
served across the four
experiments.
Perhaps happy people have
a particular
desire
to protect their good mood, and
as
such,
they
respond especially strongly to social desirability
cues.
This pos-
sibility remains to be examined in future research.
The claim that happiness is associated with less thoughtful-
ness or cognitive effort has received a very interesting qualifi-
cation from recent research by Martin, Ward, Achee, and Wyer
(1993).
Specifically, these researchers showed that good moods
can
have
very different motivational implications, depending
on
a person's orientation to a current task. If one asks oneself
"Have I done enough?" then a good mood may imply an
affirmative answer, leading to a termination of cognitive effort.
On the other hand, if one asks oneself "Am I still enjoying this
task?"
then
a good
mood
may
imply an affirmative
answer,
lead-
ing to continued effort. Task parameters and individual differ-
ences may determine which kind of orientation one has, but
this research clearly implies that it
is
dangerous to generally as-
sume that happiness
implies a
lack of cognitive motivation. Per-
haps it is primarily for relatively uninvolving tasks that this is
true.
Nevertheless, the outcomes of uninvolving tasks
(e.g.,
pe-
rusing evidence about the criminal culpability of
a
member of
a stereotyped group) can be consequential in building a social
perceiver's database of stereotypic knowledge.
The present findings may seem somewhat at odds with re-
search indicating greater
flexibility
and creativity among happy
persons (for
reviews,
see Isen, 1984, 1987). The work of Martin
et al. (1993) provides one way of integrating these apparently
disparate findings. If creativity-related tasks offer an opportu-
nity for enjoyment or fun, then happy people may indeed be
willing to
expend
some
effort on them,
because
their orientation
to task
may
take the form, "Am
I
still enjoying
this?"
Creativity
tasks may have particular intrinsic appeal to happy people be-
cause they provide a means for enjoyment, and therefore for
mood maintenance or protection. On the other hand, a social
perception task like the one used here (and its real-life analogs)
may provide little promise of enjoyment, and happy people may
be correspondingly unwilling to exert much effort on it (unless,
of
course,
other motivational concerns arise, as with the high
accountability conditions). Happy people's use of heuristic
shortcuts
(e.g.,
Isen, Means, Patrick,
&
Nowicki,
1982)
is prob-
ably limited to task environments that offer little promise of
improving their current
mood.
If thinking
deeply
about
the
task
might actually undermine or dissipate their good mood, then
happy people have another motive to rely on a quick response
strategy rather than engage in more systematic thought.
Yet another interpretation of the present results is also possi-
ble.
If positive moods are associated with enhanced cognitive
accessibility of positive self-related information (and perhaps
also negative information about outgroups, if this information
adds to one's sense of positive distinctiveness; see Tajfel &
Turner, 1986), then a positive mood induction may selectively
prime such associations. If
so,
feeling good may also mean feel-
ing quite self-confident or even overconfident (but see Allwood
& Bjorhag, 1991). As a consequence, people who are feeling
good may be more likely to disparage members of other groups
rather automatically, without undertaking any effort to correct
stereotypic judgments because of this confidence. Relatedly,
Devine (1989) has suggested that stereotyping occurs automat-
ically, but is often followed by an effortful attempt to correct
one's judgments to avoid stereotypic influences (at least among
those who are low in prejudice). Perhaps happy people do not
bother
to
engage in this effortful correction process (see Boden-
hausen,
1993).
Given that the motivation for this corrective ac-
tivity seems to lie in unpleasant feelings of guilt and compunc-
tion (Devine & Monteith, 1993; Devine, Monteith, Zuwerink,
& Elliot, 1991), it may be that the happy mood induction un-
dermines social perceivers' effort to avoid prejudice because it
counteracts the feelings of compunction that might otherwise
arise.
This possibility
is
currently being investigated.
Conclusions
What
is the
typical ecological relationship between emotional
states and intergroup perception, judgment, and interaction?
Bodenhausen (1993) recently argued that
there are two
different
kinds of contexts in which affect may enter into intergroup per-
ceptions. The first, termed
integral
affect,
involves emotional
reactions that are generated by thoughts and associations about
the relevant outgroup(s). For many outgroups, the affect that is
integral to people's thoughts about the group
is
decidedly nega-
630G. BODENHAUSEN, G. KRAMER, AND K. SUSSER
tive (e.g., Dijker, 1987; Gaertner & Dovidio, 1986; Jackson &
Sullivan, 1988; Stephan & Stephan,
1985;
Wilder, 1993). If in-
tegral emotions were the only affective factor affecting social
perception, it would be largely unnecessary to be concerned
about happy
moods
producing stereotypic judgments.
But
there
is a second context, the one of focal concern in the present re-
search, which is termed
incidental
affect.
Incidental affect con-
sists of emotions elicited by factors beyond the intergroup
context itself
(e.g.,
the weather, professional accomplishments,
one's love life). The present research demonstrates that when
one is feeling good, for whatever incidental reason, the likeli-
hood of stereotypic judgments
increases,
at least for judgmental
tasks of minimal personal relevance.
It may seem somewhat ironic, given the results of the present
experiments, that researchers have touted the importance of
a
positive affective climate for the development of favorable in-
tergroup relations (e.g., Amir, 1976; Brewer
&
Miller, 1984). If
one considers the probable impact of integral positive affect on
intergroup perception, however, there may be little contradic-
tion between the implications of our findings and the recom-
mendations of previous researchers concerning the best climate
for intergroup contact. Because the accuracy of social percep-
tions in an actual intergroup interaction setting is relevant to
one's own outcomes or well-being, it seems likely that happy
people
will be willing to
expend the cognitive effort necessary to
look beyond their
general
preconceptions about
the