Perspective Taking Combats Automatic Expressions of Racial Bias

Department of Psychology, University of Cologne, Germany.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 03/2011; 100(6):1027-42. DOI: 10.1037/a0022308
Source: PubMed


Five experiments investigated the hypothesis that perspective taking--actively contemplating others' psychological experiences--attenuates automatic expressions of racial bias. Across the first 3 experiments, participants who adopted the perspective of a Black target in an initial context subsequently exhibited more positive automatic interracial evaluations, with changes in automatic evaluations mediating the effect of perspective taking on more deliberate interracial evaluations. Furthermore, unlike other bias-reduction strategies, the interracial positivity resulting from perspective taking was accompanied by increased salience of racial inequalities (Experiment 3). Perspective taking also produced stronger approach-oriented action tendencies toward Blacks (but not Whites; Experiment 4). A final experiment revealed that face-to-face interactions with perspective takers were rated more positively by Black interaction partners than were interactions with nonperspective takers--a relationship that was mediated by perspective takers' increased approach-oriented nonverbal behaviors (as rated by objective, third-party observers). These findings indicate that perspective taking can combat automatic expressions of racial biases without simultaneously decreasing sensitivity to ongoing racial disparities.

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    • "Second, as we have outlined previously, more negative implications of imagineother as compared to imagine-self perspective-taking critically depend on the potential for evaluation. Some previous research that has directly compared imagineself and imagine-other perspective-taking has found their effects to be similar (e.g., Todd et al., 2011, Study 1). Yet, none of these studies have compared these forms of perspective-taking in a context characterized by the potential for evaluation. "
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    ABSTRACT: Two experiments tested the hypothesis that imagine-other and imagineself perspective-taking have different implications for prejudice reduction when instantiated in intergroup exchanges characterized by the potential for evaluation. We reasoned that because imagine-other perspective-taking is more likely than imagine-self perspective-taking to lead individuals to an unproductive focus on how they themselves are evaluated, imagine-other perspective-taking would hinder prejudice reduction whereas imagine-self perspective-taking would not. Results across two different intergroup relationships were consistent with these predictions and further suggested that the negative implications of imagine-other perspective-taking were mediated by relative meta-stereotype activation, an index of the extent to which individuals focused more on how their own group was viewed than on their view of the outgroup. These findings highlight that considering how individuals' concerns with evaluation guide their thoughts and experiences during intergroup exchanges can help identify the likely effects of different intervention strategies in such contexts.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2014 · Social Cognition
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    • "Finally, Vorauer and colleagues' research have focused on one specific target group: Aboriginals from Canada (Vorauer, Martens, et al., 2009; Vorauer & Sasaki, 2009). In contrast, the positive effects of perspective-taking on prejudice reduction and intergroup interaction have been shown across a number of groups – African Americans (Galinsky, Wang, et al., 2008; Todd et al., 2011; Vescio et al., 2003), Hispanics (Todd, Bodenhausen, & Galinsky, 2012), the elderly (Galinsky & Ku, 2004; Galinsky & Moskowitz, 2000; Galinsky, Wang, et al., 2008), hooligans (the current research), occupational groups (Wang et al., 2013), and medical patients (Blatt et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: The current research explored whether perspective-taking increases willingness to engage in contact with stereotyped outgroup members. Across three studies, we find that perspective-taking increases willingness to engage in contact with negatively-stereotyped targets. In Study 1, perspective-takers sat closer to, whereas stereotype suppressors sat further from, a hooligan compared to control participants. In Study 2, individual differences in perspective-taking tendencies predicted individuals' willingness to engage in contact with a hooligan, having effects above and beyond those of empathic concern. Finally, Study 3 demonstrated that perspective-taking's effects on intergroup contact extend to the target's group (i.e., another homeless man), but not to other outgroups (i.e., a man of African descent). Consistent with other perspective-taking research, our findings show that perspective-taking facilitates the creation of social bonds by increasing contact with stereotyped outgroup members.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · PLoS ONE
    • "Hence, other approaches, such as trying to learn about the interaction partner (Sasaki & Vorauer, 2010) or to pay close attention to him or her (Vorauer & Sucharyna, 2013), are likely to be more reliably beneficial in such contexts. Alternative, more carefully orchestrated, forms of perspective-taking involving priming a general perspective-taking mind-set (Todd et al., 2011; see also Bilali & Vollhardt, 2013) or ensuring attention to significant levels of self-disclosure from the target (Bruneau & Saxe, 2012) might also prove to be more beneficial here. In addition, imagine-self perspectivetaking might have the potential to trigger more positive effects than imagine-other perspective-taking, by virtue of being less likely to lead individuals to become preoccupied with the target's evaluation of them. "
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    ABSTRACT: How can recent findings indicating that perspective-taking fosters negative behavior and defensiveness be reconciled with ample evidence that perspective-taking can have beneficial effects on individuals' evaluative and behavioral reactions to other people? I argue that perspective-taking tends to prompt positive reactions in contexts where the potential for evaluation by the target is low and where individuals thus focus their attention squarely on understanding the target when perspective-taking. In contrast, perspective-taking prompts more negative reactions in contexts where the potential for evaluation by the target is high and where individuals thus focus their attention back on themselves when perspective-taking. I further argue that the relevance of individuals' concerns about their social standing with others moderates perspective-taking effects because it determines which of two distinct forms of egocentrism arises. A beneficial form involves individuals projecting themselves onto the target, whereas a detrimental form involves individuals becoming preoccupied with the target's evaluation of them. I also maintain that perspective-taking is more likely to foster favorable treatment of targets when it is easy for individuals to identify what constitutes positive versus negative treatment. Because most experiments examining perspective-taking have been conducted in contexts involving low potential for evaluation and clear behavior response options, which may not be representative of the contexts in which individuals most often engage in perspective-taking in their everyday lives, negative effects might be more common than traditionally believed. I review the research literature and find general support for this conceptual framework. Apparent counter-examples and directions for future research are discussed.
    No preview · Chapter · Dec 2013
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