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(Close) Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: Improving Implicit Racial Attitudes and Interracial Interactions Through Approach Behaviors

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In 4 studies, the authors examined the effect of approaching Blacks on implicit racial attitudes and immediacy behaviors. In Studies 1-3, participants were trained to pull a joystick toward themselves or to push it away from themselves when presented with photographs of Blacks, Whites, or Asians before completing an Implicit Association Test to measure racial bias. In Study 4, the effect of this training procedure on nonverbal behavior in an interracial contact situation was investigated. Results from the studies demonstrated that approaching Blacks decreased participants' implicit racial prejudice and increased immediacy when interacting with a Black confederate. The implications of these findings for current theories on approach, avoidance, and intergroup relations are discussed.
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ATTITUDES AND SOCIAL COGNITION
(Close) Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: Improving Implicit Racial
Attitudes and Interracial Interactions Through Approach Behaviors
Kerry Kawakami, Curtis E. Phills, and
Jennifer R. Steele
York University
John F. Dovidio
University of Connecticut
In 4 studies, the authors examined the effect of approaching Blacks on implicit racial attitudes and
immediacy behaviors. In Studies 1–3, participants were trained to pull a joystick toward themselves or
to push it away from themselves when presented with photographs of Blacks, Whites, or Asians before
completing an Implicit Association Test to measure racial bias. In Study 4, the effect of this training
procedure on nonverbal behavior in an interracial contact situation was investigated. Results from the
studies demonstrated that approaching Blacks decreased participants’ implicit racial prejudice and
increased immediacy when interacting with a Black confederate. The implications of these findings for
current theories on approach, avoidance, and intergroup relations are discussed.
Keywords: approach, avoidance, implicit attitudes
Both early theorists (Bain, 1868; Spencer, 1865) and contem-
porary researchers (Cacioppo, Priester, & Berntson, 1993; Eagly &
Chaiken, 1998; Greenwald & Banaji, 1995; Zanna & Rempel,
1988) view attitudes as being inextricably connected to evaluations
and behavioral predispositions. However, it has not been until
recent years that a more specific relationship between approach–
avoidance behaviors and attitudes has been proposed and exam-
ined empirically (Barsalou, Niedenthal, Barbey, & Ruppert, 2003;
Cacioppo et al., 1993; Chen & Bargh, 1999; Fo¨rster & Strack,
1997, 1998; Neumann & Strack, 2000a; Priester, Cacioppo, &
Petty, 1996; Wentura, Rothermund, & Bak, 2000). In this recent
theorizing, approach orientations are often conceptualized as a
frame of mind or motivation associated with pulling something or
someone toward the body, whereas avoidance orientations are
viewed as motivations associated with pushing an object or person
away (Fo¨rster, 2001).
Research along these lines has demonstrated that approach and
avoidance behaviors can influence attitudes in a predictable fash-
ion, with people generally evaluating objects more favorably after
approach versus avoidance actions (Cacioppo et al., 1993; Fo¨rster
& Strack, 1997, 1998; Neumann & Strack, 2000a; Priester et al.,
1996). For example, Cacioppo et al. (1993) demonstrated that
when participants were instructed to flex their muscles by placing
their palms on the bottom of the table and lifting (an approach
position), they liked neutral Chinese ideographs more than they did
when they were instructed to extend their muscles by placing their
palms on the top of the table and pressing down (an avoidance
position).
Although this line of research initially focused on attitudes
toward nonsocial objects, these findings suggest the intriguing
possibility that inducing approach orientations might similarly
impact attitudes toward social stimuli. For example, approaching
members of negatively evaluated ethnic or racial groups may
reduce prejudice toward these groups. Two lines of research pro-
vide initial findings that suggest that changing approach or avoid-
ance orientations can influence attitudes toward members of stig-
matized groups. The first line of research has demonstrated that
approach and avoidance behaviors can systematically influence the
accessibility of positively and negatively evaluated social stimuli.
Specifically, Fo¨rster and Strack (1997, 1998) investigated the
impact of arm flexions and extensions on participants’ recall of
names of liked and disliked celebrities. Across several studies,
they found that the names of more popular celebrities were gen-
erated when participants were flexing rather than extending their
arms, whereas more names of notorious celebrities were generated
when participants were extending rather than flexing their arms.
The second line of work, which is more directly related to the
current research, reveals a correlation between attitudes toward
social categories and approach and avoidance behaviors. In par-
ticular, Neumann, Hulsenbeck, and Seibt (2004) demonstrated that
participants’ attitudes toward people with AIDS, as measured by
the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGee, &
Kerry Kawakami, Curtis E. Phills, and Jennifer R. Steele, Department of
Psychology, York University; John F. Dovidio, Department of Psychology,
University of Connecticut.
The research reported in this article was supported by a Social Science
and Humanities Council of Canada standard research grant to Kerry
Kawakami.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kerry
Kawakami, Department of Psychology, York University, 4700 Keele
Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3. E-mail: kawakami@yorku.ca
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2007, Vol. 92, No. 6, 957–971
Copyright 2007 by the American Psychological Association 0022-3514/07/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.92.6.957
957
Schwartz, 1998), were significantly correlated with avoidance
behaviors as indexed by the speed with which a subject pushed a
computer mouse away from him- or herself when presented with a
photograph of a person with AIDS. Similarly, in preliminary work
conducted in conjunction with our present research (Phills &
Kawakami, 2005), we found that negative implicit attitudes toward
Blacks were significantly related to approach and avoidance be-
haviors as indicated by participants’ pushing and pulling of a
joystick in association with photographs of Blacks and Whites
(Chen & Bargh, 1999). Although the size of our correlation (r
.31) was similar to the magnitude of the relationship that Neumann
et al. (2004) obtained (r .33), neither of these two correlational
studies directly answer the question of causality. In particular, does
approaching or avoiding stigmatized social categories causally
impact attitudes and behaviors toward these groups?
The Present Research
Our primary goal in the present research was to extend theoriz-
ing on the relationship between approach behaviors and attitudes
in two fundamental ways. First, whereas researchers in previous
studies have examined the effects of approaching and avoiding
nonsocial stimuli while concurrently assessing explicit attitudes
toward that stimuli (Cacioppo et al., 1993) or the correlation
between implicit attitudes toward meaningful social groups and
approach–avoidance actions (e.g., Neumann et al., 2004), we in-
vestigated whether prolonged practice in approaching a particular
social category in an initial session can subsequently causally
influence attitudes toward that category. On the basis of previous
findings by Kawakami, Dovidio, and their colleagues (Kawakami,
Dovidio, Moll, Hermsen, & Russin, 2000; Kawakami, Dovidio, &
Van Kamp, 2005, 2007) that show that associations related to
social categories can be altered in enduring ways through extended
practice, we predicted that initial training in approaching Blacks
would systematically impact subsequent attitudes.
Second, whereas previous researchers have considered the ef-
fects of manipulating approach and avoidance behaviors on ex-
plicit attitudes (Cacioppo et al., 1993; Priester et al., 1996), we
examined the impact of changing approach and avoidance orien-
tations on implicit attitudes and subtle nonverbal behaviors. We
focused on implicit attitudes for several reasons. One reason is that
implicit responses may be less amenable to social desirability and
demand characteristic effects, particularly in socially sensitive
domains such as racial attitudes, than are explicit responses (Fazio
& Olson, 2003). Another reason is that measures of explicit and
implicit racial stereotypes and attitudes are only weakly related
empirically (Blair, 2001; Dovidio, Kawakami, & Beach, 2000;
Kawakami, Dion, & Dovidio, 1998). Independent of explicit atti-
tudes, implicit attitudes are influential in shaping personal and
social behavior in general (Bargh, 1997) and interracial behavior in
particular. For instance, implicit measures are a better predictor of
spontaneous interracial behaviors, such as nonverbal behavior,
than are explicit measures of prejudice (Dovidio, Kawakami, &
Gaertner, 2002; Dovidio, Kawakami, Johnson, Johnson, &
Howard, 1997; Dovidio, Kawakami, Smoak, & Gaertner, in press;
Fazio, Jackson, Dunton, & Williams, 1995; McConnell & Leibold,
2001; see also Wilson, Lindsay, & Schooler, 2000). By examining
how changing approach and avoidance behaviors can affect im-
plicit attitudes towards Blacks, we, with the current research,
contribute to the expanding literature regarding the malleability of
implicit attitudes. Although implicit responses were initially con-
sidered to be automatic “habits of mind” that were generally
unchangeable (Bargh, 1999; Devine, 1989), more recent research
has demonstrated their malleability (Blair, 2002). The present
research can thus further advance an understanding of how implicit
attitudes can be influenced in potentially enduring ways.
Whereas previous research has focused on the impact of ap-
proach and avoidance behaviors primarily on attitudes (Cacioppo
et al., 1993; Priester et al., 1996) or memory processes (Fo¨rster &
Stack, 1997, 1998), in addition to examining implicit attitudes, we
also included a subtle measure of nonverbal behavior in an inter-
racial interaction. Specifically, we investigated the possible link
between approach orientations and nonverbal immediacy behav-
iors. Because of the importance of immediacy behaviors to inter-
racial interactions and discrimination (Dovidio et al., 2002; Word,
Zanna, & Cooper, 1974), we investigated whether training in
approaching Blacks impacted two key indices of immediacy,
namely, directness of participants’ body orientation toward a Black
interaction partner and proximal distance to the partner.
Overview
In summary, our goal in the present research was to examine the
impact of training in approaching Blacks on implicit racial atti-
tudes and immediacy behaviors in interracial interactions (Word et
al., 1974), both of which have been identified as being critical to
improving race relations (Dovidio, Gaertner, & Kawakami, 2003;
Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006). To examine this relationship, we con-
ducted four studies. In Study 1, we investigated the impact of
supraliminal training in approaching Blacks on implicit racial
attitudes. In Study 2, we examined the importance of awareness to
this process by investigating the influence of subliminal training in
approaching Blacks on implicit racial attitudes. In Study 3, we
investigated the importance of bodily feedback and comparison
target categories to this process by modifying the approach in-
structions and using an alternative comparison category in the
training task. Finally, in Study 4, we examined the impact of
approaching Blacks in a subliminal training procedure on imme-
diacy behaviors in an interpersonal interaction with a Black part-
ner.
Study 1
Our primary goal in Study 1 was to examine the impact of
training in approaching and avoiding Blacks and Whites on sub-
sequent implicit racial attitudes. Previous research suggests the
possibility that associations related to social categories can be
altered in enduring ways through extended practice that under-
mines the original habitual response (Kawakami et al., 2000, 2005,
2007). This research provides evidence that extensive practice in
negating stereotypes can reduce the automatic activation of tradi-
tional associations. For example, in one study, participants were
presented on a computer screen with photographs of Blacks and
Whites in association with traits that were either stereotypic or
nonstereotypic of Black Americans (Kawakami et al., 2000, Study
3). Participants in a training condition designed to reduce stereo-
type activation were instructed to negate racial stereotypes by
responding “no” to photographs of Whites and traits associated
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KAWAKAMI, PHILLS, STEELE, AND DOVIDIO
with Whites or photographs of Blacks and traits associated with
Blacks. They were further instructed to respond “yes” to
stereotype-inconsistent word–picture pairings. Participants in the
control condition were given the opposite instructions.
The results of this study (Kawakami et al., 2000, Study 3)
demonstrated that participants who were trained to respond in
ways that were consistent with cultural stereotypic associations did
not differ in the activation of implicit stereotypes before and after
the training. In both conditions, these participants showed signif-
icant levels of implicit stereotyping. In contrast, although partici-
pants who were extensively trained to negate racial stereotypes
also demonstrated significant implicit stereotype activation before
the training, this bias was eliminated after the training. Participants
who had extensive practice in negating cultural stereotypes no
longer automatically activated stereotypes of Blacks. Building on
the position that implicit associations reflect habits of mind, this
research suggests that practicing counter-stereotypic associations
can undermine the automatic activation of cultural stereotypic
associations. Whereas Kawakami et al. (2000) examined the im-
pact of training in negating stereotypes on the subsequent activa-
tion of stereotypes, in the present set of studies we investigated
how practice in approaching and avoiding social categories can
influence evaluative associations (i.e., implicit prejudice).
In accordance with previous research by Chen and Bargh
(1999), the present study used movements with a joystick to reflect
approach and avoidance orientations. Specifically, participants in
Study 1 were trained to pull a joystick toward themselves when
presented with Blacks and to push a joystick away from them-
selves when presented with Whites (the approach Blacks–avoid
Whites condition) or to push a joystick away from themselves
when presented with Blacks and to pull a joystick toward them-
selves when presented with Whites (the avoid Blacks–approach
Whites condition). A third group of participants was trained to
move the joystick to the left or right when presented with Blacks
and in the opposite direction when presented with Whites (the
sideways control condition). As in the Kawakami et al. (2000)
studies, training on this task was extensive, with participants
performing 480 trials. Furthermore, participants in this first study
were specifically instructed to approach or avoid a particular racial
category by pulling or pushing a joystick, respectively. Thus the
movement of the joystick by the participant was explicitly asso-
ciated with approach and avoidance concepts. After this initial
phase, all participants were subsequently presented with what we
called a second study, which was really a second phase designed
to measure implicit racial attitudes, in which the participants were
asked to complete a response latency association task, the IAT.
We hypothesized that extensively training non-Black partici-
pants to approach and avoid Blacks and Whites would have effects
on implicit attitudes that are analogous to those found when
training non-Black participants to negate stereotypes (Kawakami
et al., 2000). On the basis of the fact that implicit prejudice and
avoidance behaviors are assumed to already be automatic pro-
cesses that are activated on presentation of the social category
Black (Dovidio et al., 1997, 2002; Fazio et al. 1995; Greenwald et
al., 1998; Phills & Kawakami, 2005; Neumann et al., 2004), we
predicted no difference in implicit prejudice for participants who
were trained to avoid Blacks and approach Whites and participants
in the sideways control condition who were trained to move the
joystick sideways to images of Blacks and Whites. This assump-
tion is supported by previous findings by Kawakami et al. (2000,
2005) that demonstrated no difference between the no-training
control condition and a training condition consistent with existing
biases. In contrast, participants trained to approach Blacks and
avoid Whites were expected to show lower levels of implicit
prejudice than were participants trained to avoid Blacks or partic-
ipants in the control condition. Specifically, we predicted that a
priori comparisons would indicate a significant difference between
the approach Blacks–avoid Whites condition and the avoid
Blacks–approach Whites and sideways control conditions.
Method
Participants. Fifty-six (46 female and 10 male) non-Black
undergraduate students took part in the experiment for course
credit or a movie pass.
1
The participants were randomly assigned
to one of three training conditions (approach Blacks–avoid Whites
vs. avoid Blacks–approach Whites vs. sideways control) in a
between-subjects design.
Procedure. On arrival, participants were informed that they
would be involved in a series of separate, unrelated studies. In
reality, however, the study consisted of two interrelated phases.
Specifically, although participants were told that their primary task
in Study 1 was to respond to a series of photographs so that we
could examine theories of cognitive processes, the actual aim of
this phase was to train participants to approach and avoid members
of specific social categories. Our primary aim in the second phase,
introduced to participants as Study 2, was to examine the effect of
the training on the subsequent speed with which participants
associated positive and negative concepts with these social cate-
gories on an IAT.
On entering the laboratory, participants were led to individual
cubicles and seated behind a personal computer with a Pentium 4
processor. All participants were informed that photographs of
faces of Blacks and Whites would be presented on a computer
screen and that their task was to pull the joystick toward them-
selves, away from themselves, or sideways (depending on their
condition) on presentation of a member of a particular category.
Specifically, participants in the approach Blacks–avoid Whites
condition were explicitly instructed to “approach Blacks” by pull-
ing the joystick toward themselves when presented with Blacks
and to “avoid Whites” by pushing the joystick away from them-
selves when presented with Whites. In contrast, participants in the
avoid Blacks–approach Whites condition were asked to avoid
Blacks by pushing the joystick away from themselves when pre-
sented with Blacks and to approach Whites by pulling the joystick
toward themselves when presented with Whites. Whereas half of
the participants in the sideways control condition were instructed
to push the joystick to the right when presented with Blacks and to
the left when presented with Whites, the other half of the control
participants were told to push the joystick to the left when pre-
sented with Blacks and to the right when presented with Whites.
On each trial of the training task, the photograph remained on
the computer screen until the participant responded. If the response
1
Although 59 students participated in Study 1, the data from 1 student
who did not follow instructions, 1 student who completed the experiment
twice, and 1 student whose data were not properly recorded were excluded
from the analyses.
959
APPROACHING SOCIAL CATEGORIES
was correct, a blank screen appeared for 1,000 ms before the
presentation of the next photograph. If the response was incorrect,
a blank screen appeared for 100 ms before a red X was presented
for 800 ms, which was then followed by a blank screen that
appeared for 100 ms before the next trial.
In total, participants received 480 trials consisting of 10 blocks
of 48 trials. In each block, black-and-white photographs of 24
Black men and 24 White men scanned from college yearbooks
were presented. All trials in each block were presented in a random
order. After each block, participants were given a break and asked
to press the mouse when they were ready to continue the experi-
ment. Participants were instructed to complete each trial as quickly
and as accurately as possible. Before beginning the actual trials,
however, participants were first presented with a practice set of 8
trials involving stimuli not used in the main trials.
To examine the effects of approach–avoidance training on im-
plicit racial prejudice, we presented participants with the second
task, the IAT. In this task, participants were instructed to catego-
rize photographs of Black and White faces and positive and
negative concepts. In particular, the stimuli included in this phase
were black-and-white photographs of six Black faces and six
White faces not used in the approach–avoidance task as well as six
positive words (i.e., love, cheer, rainbow, peace, happy, and ca-
ress) and six negative words (i.e., evil, pain, grief, vomit, hate, and
filth). In accordance with standard race IATs (Greenwald et al.,
1998; Rudman, Ashmore, & Gary, 2001), in one set of critical
trials, the incompatible block, participants were asked to use the
same key when categorizing Black faces and positive words and
when categorizing White faces and negative words. In the other set
of critical trials, the compatible block, participants were asked to
use the same key when categorizing Black faces and negative
words and when categorizing White faces and positive words.
Each critical block of compatible and incompatible associations
consisted of 72 trials, and the order of the compatible and incom-
patible critical trials was counterbalanced across participants.
On completion of the experiment, participants were asked about
their perceptions related to the purpose of the experiment, the main
expectations of the experimenter, and the relationship between the
separate tasks. The responses confirmed our expectation that none
of the participants were cognizant of the predicted effects of the
training task on response latencies in the IAT.
Results and Discussion
The new scoring algorithm was used to compute IAT scores
(Greenwald, Nosek, & Banaji, 2003), in which the standard devi-
ations within conditions were applied to calculate the D scores for
each training condition. Higher D scores reflect more implicit
prejudice by showing greater facilitation when associating Blacks
with unpleasant words and Whites with pleasant words.
To examine the effect of training in approaching and avoiding
Blacks on the speed with which participants associated positive
and negative words with Blacks and Whites, we performed a
Training (approach Blacks–avoid Whites vs. avoid Blacks–
approach Whites vs. sideways control) one-way analysis of vari-
ance (ANOVA) on the IAT D scores. As depicted in Figure 1, a
significant effect for training was found, F(2, 53) 4.12, p .02.
On the basis of the fact that implicit prejudice and avoidance
behaviors are assumed to be the default and are automatically
activated by the social category (Dovidio et al., 1997, 2002; Fazio
et al., 1995; Greenwald et al., 1998; Neumann et al., 2004; Phills
& Kawakami, 2005) and that no training control conditions and
conditions aimed at maintaining an existing bias were found to
produce similar results in previous research (Kawakami et al.,
2000, 2005), we predicted no difference in implicit prejudice for
participants who were trained to avoid Blacks and approach
Whites and participants in the sideways control condition who
were trained to move the joystick sideways in response to Black
and White faces. The results supported this prediction. Participants
showed no difference in implicit prejudice on the IAT in the avoid
Blacks–approach Whites (D 0.52) and the sideways control
(D 0.43) conditions, t(35) 0.87, p .39. An a priori contrast,
however, demonstrated that these latter two conditions were sig-
nificantly different from the approach Blacks–avoid Whites con-
dition, t(53) 2.78, p .007. As predicted, participants demon-
strated lower implicit prejudice on the IAT after training in
approaching Blacks and avoiding Whites (D 0.23) when con-
trasted with conditions in which participants avoided Blacks and
approached Whites or pushed the joystick sideways to Black and
White faces (D 0.47).
In summary, the results from Study 1 demonstrate that training
participants to systematically approach Blacks and avoid Whites
can influence implicit racial attitudes. Specifically, participants
who received extensive training in pulling a joystick toward them-
selves when presented with a photograph of a Black person and
pushing it away from themselves when presented with a photo-
graph of a White person showed significantly lower levels of
implicit racial prejudice than did participants in the control con-
ditions.
These findings are noteworthy for several reasons. First,
whereas previous research has focused on explicit attitudes toward
nonsocial objects (Cacioppo et al., 1993; Priester et al., 1996) or
correlational data between implicit attitudes and social categories
(Neumann et al., 2004; Phills & Kawakami, 2005), the present
results are the first to show that approaching a member of a social
category causes one to have more favorable implicit attitudes
toward that category even when preexisting implicit evaluations of
this group are initially negative. Given the theoretical importance
of implicit attitudes (Bargh, 1997; Dovidio et al., 2000; Greenwald
Figure 1. Effects of supraliminal (Study 1) and subliminal (Study 2)
training procedures on implicit racial attitudes.
960
KAWAKAMI, PHILLS, STEELE, AND DOVIDIO
et al., 2002; Wilson et al., 2000) and the ability of implicit attitudes
to predict subtle forms of intergroup behavior (Dovidio et al.,
1997, 2002; Kawakami et al., 2005), the implications of these
findings for race relations are practically as well as conceptually
significant.
Furthermore, the use of an implicit measure of attitudes after the
training also has relevant methodological implications. Specifi-
cally, using a more automatic index of racial attitudes, the IAT,
renders a demand characteristic explanation for the present find-
ings less plausible than for more explicit measures of attitudes or
evaluations (Dovidio & Fazio, 1992). Because participants’ con-
trol over their responses on these types of reaction time tasks is
limited as a result of time constraints, instructions, and task com-
plexity, participants are less able to change their response patterns
intentionally to reflect momentary motivations related to the ex-
perimental situation or self-presentational goals (Asendorpf,
Banse, & Mu¨cke, 2002; Egloff & Schmukle, 2002; Kim, 2003;
Steffens, 2004).
Second, although the present findings are consistent with pre-
vious research demonstrating that concurrent arm flexions and
extensions can influence attitudes toward nonsocial stimuli (Ca-
cioppo et al., 1993; Priester et al., 1996), they provide new evi-
dence that approach orientations toward a specific category may
also have effects on subsequent responses if they have been
previously practiced. In particular, the results from Study 1 show
that social categories are evaluated more positively even after
approach behaviors have subsided if participants are extensively
trained in an earlier phase to associate approach behaviors with a
specific target category. Demonstrating that approach tendencies
can have enduring effects on attitudes significantly increases the
implications of this process for intergroup relations. Specifically,
these findings suggest the possibility that a history of approaching
a social category may have positive and additive effects on prej-
udice. Furthermore, these findings provide further evidence that
implicit attitudes, like implicit stereotypes, reflect learned habits of
mind (Devine, 1989) that can be influenced by practice in respond-
ing in unconventional ways toward social groups (Kawakami et
al., 2000, 2005).
Study 2
While our main goal in Study 1 was to examine the effects of
approaching and avoiding members of social categories on implicit
attitudes toward social categories, our primary aim in Study 2 was
to examine the importance of awareness to this process. To achieve
this goal, we modified the training procedure in Study 2 to include
subliminal rather than supraliminal presentation of Black and
White faces. Responses on the joystick, therefore, were no longer
ostensibly contingent on racial categories. In particular, partici-
pants were instructed to simply pull a joystick toward themselves
or push a joystick away from themselves when presented with the
words approach or avoid. Participants in a sideways control con-
dition were presented with the words right or left. Unbeknownst to
all participants, these labels were associated with the subliminal
presentation of Black or White faces according to condition. As in
Study 1, after the training phase, all participants were presented
with an implicit measure of racial attitudes, the IAT.
Our predictions for Study 2 were the same as those for Study 1.
In particular, on the basis of previous theorizing and results
(Dovidio et al., 1997, 2002; Fazio et al., 1995; Greenwald et al.,
1998; Kawakami et al., 2000, 2005), we expected no difference in
implicit attitudes between participants in the avoid Blacks–
approach Whites condition and in the sideways control condition.
However, we did expect that participants in the approach Blacks–
avoid Whites condition would demonstrate less implicit prejudice
than participants in the latter two conditions.
Method
Participants. Fifty-four (37 female and 17 male) non-Black
undergraduate students took part in the experiment for course
credit or a movie pass.
2
Participants were randomly assigned to
one of three subliminal training conditions (approach Blacks–
avoid Whites vs. avoid Blacks–approach Whites vs. sideways
control) in a between-subjects design.
Procedure. On arrival, participants were informed that they
would be involved in a series of separate, unrelated studies. As in
Study 1, the first and second phases were related to approach and
avoidance training and implicit racial prejudice, respectively.
The training phase of Study 2 was similar to that of Study 1. The
one main difference for participants in this study was that the
presentation of the photographs in the training was subliminal
rather than supraliminal. In particular, participants were informed
that they would be presented on a computer screen with the words
approach or avoid, and they were instructed to pull the joystick
toward themselves when presented with the word approach and to
push the joystick away from themselves when presented with the
word avoid. Some participants were also instructed to push the
joystick to the right when presented with the word right and to
push the joystick to the left when presented with the word left.
Unbeknownst to the participants, however, before being presented
with the words approach, avoid, right,orleft, they were sublim-
inally presented with a photograph of either a Black or a White
face.
Specifically, participants in the approach Blacks–avoid Whites
condition were presented with the word approach and therefore
were required to pull the joystick toward themselves after being
subliminally presented with a Black face and were presented with
the word avoid and therefore were required to push the joystick
away from themselves after being subliminally presented with a
White face. In contrast, participants in the avoid Blacks–approach
Whites condition were presented with the word avoid and there-
fore were required to push the joystick away from themselves after
being subliminally primed with a Black face and were presented
with the word approach and therefore were required to pull the
joystick toward themselves after being subliminally primed with a
White face. Whereas half of the participants in the sideways
control condition were instructed to push the joystick to the right
on presentation of the word right after the subliminal presentation
of a Black face and to the left on presentation of the word left after
the subliminal presentation of a White face, the other half of the
participants in this condition were presented with the words left
and right and were asked to push the joystick to the left after
2
Although 58 students participated in Study 2, the data from 3 students
who did not follow instructions and 1 student who exited the program too
early by accident were excluded from the analyses.
961
APPROACHING SOCIAL CATEGORIES
subliminal presentation of a Black face and to the right after the
subliminal presentation of a White face, respectively.
On each trial of the subliminal training task, a forward mask of
a moonscape that was the same size as the race photographs (5 in.
6.5 in., or approximately 12.7 cm 16.5 cm) was presented
initially for 300 ms. Next, a photograph of a Black or White face
was presented for 23 ms and followed by a backward mask, which
was the same as the forward mask, for 33 ms (Draine & Green-
wald, 1998). Finally, the word approach, avoid, left,orright was
presented and remained on the computer screen until the partici-
pant responded. As in Study 1, participants received a total of 480
training trials and 8 practice trials before being presented with the
same IAT procedure used to measure implicit racial attitudes in
Study 1.
On the basis of pilot testing (N 10), we chose the above
parameters for the training procedure because the subliminal prime
was presented consistently at 23 ms, and none of the participants
reported awareness of racial faces even when specifically
prompted. However, to further ensure that the training was sub-
liminal, we carefully questioned all participants in the present
study for awareness using a funnel debriefing after the experiment.
In accordance with procedures used by Bargh and his colleagues
(Bargh, Chen, & Burrows, 1996; Chartrand & Bargh, 1996), we
extensively probed participants to ensure that they were unaware
of the content of the subliminal primes. Specifically, participants
were asked what they thought the purpose of the experiment had
been and about their perceptions related to the main expectations
of the experimenter. They were also asked about the relationship
between the separate tasks, whether there was anything unusual
about the experiment in general, and whether they noticed any-
thing suspicious about the background in the approach and avoid-
ance tasks. Further questioning was related to the specific content
of the background flashes in this task. The responses from this
interview indicated that only 4 participants expressed any aware-
ness of the subliminal presentation of faces in this task, and the
data of these participants were excluded from the analyses, leaving
50 participants.
Results and Discussion
To examine the effect of subliminal training in approaching
Blacks on implicit racial attitudes, we performed a subliminal
training (approach Blacks–avoid Whites vs. avoid Blacks–
approach Whites vs. sideways control) one-way ANOVA on the
IAT D scores. As depicted in Figure 1, a marginally significant
subliminal training effect was found in which the pattern of results
mirrored the effects in Study 1, F(2, 47) 2.93, p .06. In
accordance with our predictions, participants showed no difference
in implicit prejudice on the IAT between the condition aimed at
maintaining an existing bias and the control condition. As ex-
pected, IAT effects were similar after training in avoiding Blacks
and approaching Whites (D 0.33) and in the sideways control
condition (D 0.36), t(33) 0.27, p .79. However, also as
predicted, an a priori contrast indicated that these conditions were
significantly different from the approach Blacks–avoid Whites
condition, t(47) 2.28, p .03. In particular, there was lower
implicit prejudice on the IAT after training in approaching Blacks
and avoiding Whites (D 0.16) in comparison to the avoid
Blacks–approach Whites and the sideways control conditions
(D 0.35).
Although comparisons across studies need to be interpreted with
caution, a supplementary analysis was conducted to examine the
pattern of results across the supraliminal (Study 1) and subliminal
(Study 2) training procedures. Specifically, a Study (supraliminal
vs. subliminal) Training (approach Blacks–avoid Whites vs.
avoid Blacks–approach Whites vs. sideways control conditions)
ANOVA was performed on the IAT D scores. A main effect of
study was found, F(1, 100) 4.27, p .04. Participants in the
supraliminal training study (D 0.39) demonstrated more bias on
the IAT than did participants in the subliminal training study (D
0.29). More important for the present analysis and as expected on
the basis of the findings of Studies 1 and 2, this analysis also
revealed a significant effect for training, F(2, 100) 7.16, p
.001, that was not qualified by whether the training was supralim-
inal or subliminal. In particular, the Study Training interaction
did not approach significance, F(2, 100) 0.64, p .53. Al-
though in future studies researchers should examine the impact of
subliminal and supraliminal training procedures within one study
with random assignment to awareness conditions, the present
pattern of findings suggests a similar impact of supraliminal and
subliminal training on reducing implicit biases.
In summary, the results from Study 2 replicate the findings in
Study 1 and further demonstrate that training in approaching and
avoiding social groups can influence attitudes toward these cate-
gories, even when strong previous evaluative associations exist,
even on implicit measures of attitudes, and even on subsequent
tasks. Furthermore, Study 2 suggests that training in approaching
members of racial categories can reduce implicit prejudice even
without awareness of the racial contingencies in the training task.
Although the use of an implicit attitude measure such as the IAT
limits the possibility that demand characteristics are a viable
explanation for the results in this paradigm, by using subliminal
presentations of pictures of Blacks and Whites in the training
phase, we were able to reduce participants’ awareness and related
motivations to control this process (Bargh & Chartrand, 2000).
Study 3
Our goal in the first two studies was to investigate the impact on
implicit attitudes of explicitly associating approach and avoidance
concepts with racial categories by pulling and pushing a joystick in
supraliminal (Study 1) and subliminal (Study 2) training tasks.
Previous research on attitudes toward nonsocial stimuli (e.g., Ca-
cioppo et al., 1993; Priester et al., 1996), however, suggests that
the simple action of extending or flexing muscles by pulling and
pushing a joystick without approach and avoid labels may be
sufficient to influence implicit racial attitudes. In particular, a
growing body of literature has examined effects related to the
embodiment of cognitions in social psychology (Fo¨rster, 2003;
Fo¨rster & Strack, 1996, 1997, 1998; Kawakami, Young, & Da-
vidio, 2002; Neumann & Strack, 2000a, 2000b; Niedenthal, Bar-
salou, Winkielman, Krauth-Gruber, & Ric, 2005; Niedenthal,
Brauer, Halberstadt, & Innes-Ker, 2001; Schubert, 2004; Schwarz
& Bless, 1991; Wells & Petty, 1980; Zajonc, Pietromonaco, &
Bargh, 1982). In part on the basis of these effects, Barsalou et al.
(2003; Niedenthal et al., 2005) described a theory of social em-
bodiment in which an interaction between the body and higher
962
KAWAKAMI, PHILLS, STEELE, AND DOVIDIO
cognition is detailed and the importance of compatibility between
embodiment and cognition on performance is emphasized.
Although from an intergroup perspective it is important to
examine how both behavior and cognition related to approach
orientations can affect implicit prejudice, in accordance with this
recent embodiment literature, in Study 3 we examined the impact
of bodily feedback per se, independent of semantic associations
related to the concepts of approach and avoidance. Specifically,
participants in this study were shown how to simply push or pull
a joystick away from or toward themselves in association with a
particular category. Whereas participants in the previous two stud-
ies were explicitly instructed to pull the joystick or push the
joystick to approach or avoid specific racial categories (Study 1) or
in response to the words approach and avoid (Study 2), partici-
pants in Study 3 were shown how to carry out these push or pull
actions with no higher order approach or avoidance semantic
associations included in the instructions.
Our secondary goal in Study 3 was to examine the importance
of the comparison nontarget social category in the training task on
implicit attitudes. Specifically, in Studies 1 and 2, participants in
the critical condition were trained to approach Blacks and avoid
Whites and were subsequently presented with an implicit attitude
test related to Blacks and Whites. Because the nontarget category
Whites was included in both the approach training task and the
implicit attitude test, it was unclear if the training was influencing
responses to the Black target category (as we assumed), the White
nontarget comparison category, or both. Specifically, it is possible,
although not likely given earlier findings (Kawakami et al., 2000,
2005), that training in avoiding Whites rather than approaching
Blacks reduced the bias on the race IAT. To resolve this issue, we
randomly assigned participants in Study 3 to either a White or an
Asian nontarget comparison category in the training phase.
One further modification in the procedure in Study 3 was the
exclusion of the sideways control condition. Because previous
theorizing predicts no difference between participants in the avoid
Blacks–approach Whites or Asian conditions and the sideways
control condition (Dovidio et al., 1997, 2002; Fazio et al., 1995;
Greenwald et al., 1998) and because previous results related to
antibias training (Kawakami et al., 2000, 2005) and the present
findings from Studies 1 and 2 provide additional support for these
expectations, Study 3 included only the avoid Blacks–approach
Whites or Asian conditions as controls.
Because we did not expect that changes in training instructions that
focus on the embodiment or the inclusion of a nontarget Asian
comparison category would influence the basic impact of approaching
Blacks on implicit attitudes, our predictions for Study 3 were the same
as our predictions for Studies 1 and 2. Specifically, we predicted a
main effect for training condition that was not qualified by the type of
nontarget comparison category (i.e., Asian or Whites). We expected
once again that participants who approached Blacks, regardless of
whether they concomitantly avoided Whites or avoided Asians,would
show lower levels of implicit racial prejudice on a Blacks–Whites
IAT than would participants who avoided Blacks and concomitantly
approached either Whites or Asians.
Method
Participants. Seventy-three (48 female and 25 male) non-
Black undergraduate students took part in the experiment for
course credit or a movie pass.
3
Forty of these participants identi
-
fied themselves as Canadian or being from a White European
background (e.g., Italian, British), 15 as Asian (e.g., Chinese,
Japanese, Korean), 8 as South Asian (e.g., Pakistani, East Indian),
and 10 as other (e.g., Jewish, Middle Eastern). Participants were
randomly assigned to one of four conditions in a 2 (approach
Blacks vs. avoid Blacks) 2 (White nontarget comparison cate-
gory vs. Asian nontarget comparison category) between-subjects
design.
Procedure. On arrival, participants were informed that they
would be involved in a series of separate, unrelated studies. As in
the previous studies, the first phase was the approach and avoid-
ance training and the second phase measured implicit Black–White
racial prejudice with the IAT.
The training phase in Study 3 was similar to that in Study 1 with
two main differences. The first difference was that participants
now received instructions in how to push and pull a joystick in
relation to specific social categories rather than being told to
explicitly approach and avoid these groups. In general, participants
were told that “you will be making two movements with the
joystick—like this [the experimenter demonstrated by pulling the
joystick] and like this [the experimenter demonstrated by pushing
the joystick].” Participants in the approach Blacks–avoid Whites or
Asians conditions were specifically told that every time a photo-
graph of a Black person was presented, they were to respond by
pulling the joystick, and the exact pulling motion was demon-
strated; and that every time a photograph of an alternative category
member (either White or Asian depending on the condition) was
presented, they were to respond by pushing the joystick, and the
exact pushing motion was demonstrated. In contrast, participants
in the avoid Blacks–approach Whites or Asians conditions were
given the opposite demonstrations. Specifically, they were shown
how to push the joystick when presented with a Black target
person and how to pull the joystick when presented with a person
from an alternative category (either White or Asian).
The second modification was the inclusion of an additional
nontarget social category in the training that was unrelated to the
comparison category used in the IAT. Specifically, the inclusion of
White and Asian nontarget comparison categories in Study 3
resulted in four distinct conditions. In particular, participants in the
approach Blacks–avoid Whites and avoid Blacks–approach Whites
conditions received the same stimuli used in Studies 1 and 2. These
participants were presented with black-and-white photographs of
24 Black men and 24 White men scanned from college yearbooks.
Participants in the approach Blacks–avoid Asians and avoid
Blacks–approach Asians conditions, in contrast, were presented
with black-and-white photographs of 24 Black men and 24 Asian
men scanned from college yearbooks. All participants received a
total of 480 training trials in which the 48 photographs were
presented in each of the 10 blocks of trials. Before beginning the
actual trials, however, participants were first presented with a
practice set of 8 trials involving stimuli not used in the main trials.
Finally, all participants were presented with the same IAT proce-
dure related to implicit evaluations of Blacks and Whites used in
the previous studies.
3
Although 77 students participated in Study 3, the data from 4 students
who did not follow instructions were excluded from the analyses.
963
APPROACHING SOCIAL CATEGORIES
Results and Discussion
To examine the effect of training in approaching and avoiding
Blacks and Whites when instructions focused on embodiment and
type of nontarget comparison category varied, we performed a
Training (approach Blacks vs. avoid Blacks) Nontarget Com-
parison Category (Whites vs. Asians) ANOVA on the IAT D
scores. As depicted in Figure 2, a significant main effect of
training was found, F(1, 69) 9.09, p .004. These results
mirrored previous findings by showing that participants who were
trained to approach Blacks (D 0.17) showed less implicit prej-
udice than did participants who were trained to avoid Blacks (D
0.33). Furthermore, this effect was not qualified by type of non-
target category. Specifically, the two-way interaction between
Training Nontarget Comparison Category was not significant,
F(1, 69) 0.02, p .89.
Furthermore, analyses that examined each type of nontarget
condition separately also demonstrated significant training effects.
In particular, participants who were trained to approach Blacks and
avoid Whites (D 0.18) subsequently demonstrated more positive
implicit racial attitudes than did participants who initially avoided
Blacks and approached Whites (D 0.35), t(35) 2.03, p .05.
Likewise, participants who were trained to approach Blacks and
avoid Asians (D 0.16) subsequently demonstrated more positive
implicit racial attitudes than did participants who initially avoided
Blacks and approached Asians (D 0.32), t(34) 2.31, p .03.
Because the training for half of the participants included Asian
faces, we examined whether these effects would emerge when
Asian participants were excluded. Although we did not expect
differences between Asians and non-Asians on the Blacks–Whites
racial IAT, further analyses excluding 15 Asians that were in-
cluded in the main sample produced a similar set of results.
Specifically, a Training (approach Blacks vs. avoid Blacks)
Nontarget Comparison Category (Whites vs. Asians) ANOVA
produced a significant main effect only for training, F(1, 54)
4.13, p .05. As predicted, the two-way interaction between
Training Type of Nontarget Category was not significant, F(1,
54) 0.13, p .73. In general, participants who were trained to
approach Blacks (D 0.19) showed less implicit prejudice than
did participants who were trained to avoid Blacks (D 0.32).
In summary, the results from Study 3 demonstrate that even
when training instructions did not explicitly use the terms ap-
proach and avoid, the pattern of findings replicates the effects in
Studies 1 and 2. These results are in accordance with current
theorizing related to social embodiment and provide further evi-
dence for the close relationship between bodily feedback and
higher cognitions (Barsalou et al., 2003; Niedenthal et al., 2005).
In particular, these findings show that making bodily movements
that pull a member of a social category toward the self can change
attitudes toward that social category by making those attitudes
more positive.
Furthermore, the results from Study 3 demonstrate that despite
changes in the nontarget social category in the training task,
participants continued to show reduced prejudice on the IAT.
These findings suggest that the effects of approach behavior on
implicit racial prejudice in the present research is related to ap-
proaching the target category Blacks rather than avoiding the
nontarget category Whites. Even when the training sessions used a
nontarget category that was not Whites (i.e., Asians), similar
effects were produced on the Blacks–Whites IAT. Together, the
findings from Studies 1, 2, and 3 provide consistent evidence that
training in approaching Blacks leads to a reduction in implicit
prejudice.
Study 4
Whereas the findings from Studies 1–3 demonstrate that ap-
proaching a social category can influence implicit attitudes toward
that category, it is conceivable that approach training can also
influence how people behave toward Blacks in an actual interracial
interaction (Esses & Dovidio, 2002). To the extent that training in
approaching Blacks can change people’s general orientation to-
ward that group, it might similarly be expected to impact people’s
immediacy behaviors and their willingness to open themselves up
for interaction with a member of that group (Word et al., 1974). To
test this assumption, in Study 4 we investigated the impact of
training in approaching Blacks on nonverbal behaviors during an
actual interaction with a Black confederate.
A classic set of studies on self-fulfilling prophecies by Word et
al. (1974) underlines the importance of investigating immediacy
behaviors during interracial interactions. In two studies, these
researchers cleverly demonstrated that racial outgroup members
are treated differently in subtle ways and that these differences can
have a large influence on the interaction and evaluation of the
outgroup targets. Specifically, participants in their first study were
instructed to interview students for a position on a marketing team.
Not surprisingly, this study demonstrated that participants re-
sponded more negatively toward Black applicants in comparison
to White applicants by showing less immediate behaviors. In
particular, Word et al. found that White interviewers sat farther
away from and oriented their body less directly toward Black
applicants than White applicants.
It is important to note that this initial study was followed by a
second study in which participants were now placed in the role of
applicant rather than interviewer. However, half of the interview-
ers were trained to respond with immediate behaviors similar to
the interviewers’ actions with White applicants in Study 1, and the
other half of the interviewers were trained to respond with non-
immediate behaviors similar to the interviewers’ actions with
Black applicants in Study 1. The results from the second study
convincingly demonstrated that participants who were treated in
Figure 2. Effects of an embodiment training procedure and nontarget
comparison categories in Study 3 on implicit racial attitudes.
964
KAWAKAMI, PHILLS, STEELE, AND DOVIDIO
nonimmediate ways were judged to be less adequate for the job
and less composed by independent raters than were participants
treated with immediate behaviors. Furthermore, participants who
were subjected to nonimmediate, in comparison to immediate,
behaviors by the interviewer reciprocated these behaviors by sit-
ting farther away and orienting themselves in a nondirect fashion.
In the present study, we focused specifically on immediacy
behaviors in an interracial context after approach training because
these types of behaviors have been defined as communication
behaviors that enhance closeness and nonverbal interaction with
others (Word et al., 1974). Greater immediacy is related to in-
creased physical proximity and perceptual availability to the com-
municator. Because of the importance of immediacy behaviors to
interracial interactions and discrimination, in Study 4 we investi-
gated the effects of approaching Blacks on immediacy toward a
Black interaction partner. Specifically, we examined whether
training in approaching Blacks would foster behavior that indi-
cated an openness for communication toward a Black interaction
partner. We selected seating proximity as one of our indices of
immediacy because physical distance between two people can
impede smooth interactions. The choice of the participant to sit
closer to a Black person is clearly a positive behavior and indicates
a willingness on the part of the person to be close and intimate
(Henderson-King & Nisbett, 1996; Word et al., 1974). We chose
body orientation as our second indicator of immediacy because
when interacting with others, focusing one’s body on one’s partner
indicates an interest and openness to communicate with that person
(Word et al., 1974). It implies that one is available for the person.
Turning away from a partner in a discussion, alternatively, can
impede communication and may indicate an unwillingness to
direct one’s attention to the other person.
To examine the impact of approach orientation on immediacy
behaviors, we first randomly assigned participants to one of three
subliminal training conditions: approach Blacks–avoid Whites,
avoid Blacks–approach Whites, or sideways control. Next, partic-
ipants were asked to complete a task in which they revealed
intimate details about their life to a partner (Aron, Melinat, Aron,
Vallone, & Bator, 1997). Although the partner was ostensibly just
another participant, a Black male confederate who was trained to
respond with a set script was paired with each participant. During
a brief interaction between the two “participants,” the confederate
recorded how far away the participant sat, as well as the partici-
pant’s body orientation.
This study used two strategies to reduce the effects of demand
characteristics and other explicit motivations related to the exper-
imental setting on behavior in an interracial contact situation. First,
the training procedure in Study 4 used the same subliminal pre-
sentation of photographs of Blacks and Whites as in Study 2.
Therefore, participants were not aware that the training was related
to racial categorizations. Second, we focused on subtle nonverbal
behavior related to immediacy, such as body positioning and
placement of chairs, in Study 4 to rule out explicit motivational
explanations for the effects of the approach training. As demon-
strated in previous race-related research (Dovidio et al., 1997,
2002; Word et al., 1974), bias toward Black participants may be
more evident in subtle nonverbal spontaneous behaviors than in
more explicit deliberative behaviors.
On the basis of the findings from Studies 1 and 2, we expected
no differences in immediacy behaviors between participants in the
avoid Blacks–approach Whites condition and in the sideways
control condition. We did expect, however, that an a priori contrast
would demonstrate more immediacy toward the Black confederate
in the approach Blacks–avoid Whites condition than in the avoid
Blacks–approach Whites and sideways control conditions.
Method
Participants. Forty-five (31 female and 14 male) non-Black
undergraduate students took part in the experiment for course
credit.
4
The participants were randomly assigned to one of three
subliminal training conditions (approach Blacks–avoid Whites vs.
avoid Blacks–approach Whites vs. sideways control) in a between-
subjects design.
Procedure. On arrival, participants were informed that they
would be involved in a series of separate studies. Unbeknownst to
the participants, the primary aim of the first study was to train
participants to approach and avoid specific social categories. The
goal of the next phase, introduced as the second study, was to
examine the effect of the training on participants’ immediacy
behaviors during an intimate interaction with a member of the
target category.
The training phase in Study 4 comprised the same subliminal
training procedure used in Study 2, using identical parameters for
the presentation of the stimuli. Specifically, participants in Study 4
were required to complete training in which they were instructed
either to pull the joystick toward themselves when presented with
the word approach or to push the joystick away from themselves
when presented with the word avoid or to move the joystick
sideways when presented with the words left or right. Each type of
instruction was preceded by the subliminal presentation of a Black
or a White face, depending on the training condition. To ensure
that the training was subliminal, as in Study 2, we carefully
questioned all participants for awareness after the experiment
(Bargh et al., 1996; Chartrand & Bargh, 1996). Only 1 participant
indicated any awareness of the subliminal presentation of racial
faces; his data were excluded from the analyses, leaving 44 par-
ticipants.
To examine the effect of approach–avoidance training on actual
contact with Blacks, all participants were asked to engage in an
interpersonal closeness task based on a paradigm by Aron et al.
(1997). Specifically, participants were informed that their task was
to get close to their partner by asking a series of questions. The
questions called for self-disclosure on intimate topics and behav-
iors. Participants were paired with a Black male participant who
was actually a hired confederate. To reduce inhibitions, make the
interaction feel as natural as possible, and limit evaluation con-
cerns, we had the interaction occur without the intrusion of a video
camera or other recoding devices.
At the beginning of this task, participants were asked to join a
confederate who was already stationed in a small cubicle, seated in
a chair, and ostensibly waiting for the interaction to begin. The
confederate was unaware of the training condition of the partici-
pant. The participant was instructed to take a seat by moving a
chair to participate in this interaction. Both the participant and the
confederate were provided with an instruction sheet and a list of
4
Although 47 students participated in Study 4, the data from 2 students
who did not follow instructions were excluded from the analyses.
965
APPROACHING SOCIAL CATEGORIES
questions. The instructions emphasized that “this is a study of
interpersonal closeness and your task is simply to get close to your
partner.” The instructions also described a procedure in which each
partner was required to answer each question on the sheet. The
confederate was instructed to answer the first question, then the
participant answered the same question. Next, the participant was
instructed to answer the second question, then the confederate
answered the same question. The partners were instructed to con-
tinue through the set of questions, each taking turns at being the
first to answer. The questions concerned intimate details related to
the interaction partners’ lives. For example, two items included
were “When did you last cry in front of another person? By
yourself?” and “What was one of the most embarrassing moments
in your life?”
The confederate was instructed to respond in a pleasant but not
overly friendly fashion to all participants. Extensive training and a
specific script were used to standardize the confederate’s re-
sponses as much as possible. During the question session, the
confederate was required to record the immediacy of his partner’s
behavior. Although previous research on interracial interactions
has used a number of different nonverbal indices to rate the
positivity of interactions (e.g., eye blinking, eye contact), these
types of ratings often involve videotaped interactions and sub-
sequent coding (Dovidio et al., 1997, 2002). On the basis of
previous research (Word et al., 1974), we expected approach
behaviors to have the most powerful and direct impact on
immediacy behaviors. Because of the demonstrated importance
of these types of behaviors to subsequent openness for interra-
cial interaction as well as self-fulfilling prophecy and behav-
ioral confirmation processes (Klein & Snyder, 2003; Snyder,
1992; Word et al., 1974), the present research focused on
immediacy behaviors by the participants as rated online by the
confederate during the interaction.
In accordance with classic studies by Word and others
(Henderson-King & Nisbett, 1996; Word et al., 1974), the confed-
erate was instructed to rate the focus of the body position of the
participant during the interaction and the distance of the partici-
pant’s chair from his own. Specifically, the confederate was
trained to estimate participants’ body orientation by giving each
participant a rating from 4 to 4. A rating of 0 indicated that
the participant was sitting directly in front of the confederate
with his body focused toward the confederate and open for
contact. A rating of 4 or 4 indicated that the participant was
not focused on the confederate and that his or her body was
positioned at an approximate angle of 40° to the left or right of
the participant, respectively. Each scale point between 0 and 4
or 0 and 4 indicated an increase of approximately 10° in body
positioning away from the confederate. The confederate also
estimated the distance from the front of the participant’s chair
to the front of his own chair on a scale from 1 to 9. A rating of
9 on this scale indicated the farthest possible distance from the
confederate in the cubicle, and a rating of 1 indicated the closest
distance.
Confederates were extensively trained prior to the experiment to
make reliable judgments of body posture and seating distance.
Specifically, a pilot study (N 20) demonstrated that two separate
Black confederates’ ratings of body orientation were highly cor-
related with one another (r .95, p .001). Likewise, the two
Black confederates’ ratings of distance were highly correlated with
one another (r .91, p .001) and with an objective distance
between the front of the confederate’s chair and the front of the
participants’ chairs (rs .94, ps .001).
Results and Discussion
Before examining participants’ immediacy behaviors during the
interpersonal task, we transformed the scores related to the body
position of the participants to absolute values. The body position
scores were significantly correlated with the distance scores,
r(42) .64, p .001, and the reliability, represented by Cron-
bach’s , was .77. Both the distance and the body position scores
were therefore standardized and combined to create an overall
immediacy score toward the Black confederate. Higher numbers
on this measure indicate a more indirect body orientation and a
greater seating distance and therefore less immediacy and less of
an intimate orientation toward the confederate.
To examine the effect of the training in approaching Blacks on
the participants’ immediacy behaviors, we performed a subliminal
training (approach Blacks–avoid Whites vs. avoid Blacks–
approach Whites vs. sideways control) one-way ANOVA on the
immediacy scores. As indicated in Figure 3, a significant effect for
type of training was found, F(2, 41) 3.18, p .05. As expected
on the basis of previous theorizing and results (Dovidio et al.,
1997, 2002; Fazio et al., 1995; Greenwald et al., 1998; Kawakami
et al., 2000, 2005) and the findings from Studies 1 and 2, simple
effects analyses demonstrated no difference between participants
who were trained to maintain a bias and the control condition,
t(26) 0.08, p .93. In particular, participants’ immediacy
behaviors toward the Black confederate were similar in both the
avoid Blacks–approach Whites condition (M 0.24) and the
sideways control condition (M 0.21). However, as predicted, an
a priori contrast indicated that immediacy ratings in these condi-
tions were significantly different from the ratings in the approach
Blacks–avoid Whites condition, t(41) 2.51, p .02. Replicating
the pattern obtained in the previous studies with implicit attitudes,
participants in the approach Blacks–avoid Whites condition dis-
played a more positive response by showing greater immediacy
Figure 3. Effects of a subliminal training procedure in Study 4 on
distance from and body orientation toward a Black confederate.
966
KAWAKAMI, PHILLS, STEELE, AND DOVIDIO
(M ⫽⫺0.40) than participants in the other training conditions
(M 0.23). Specifically, participants who were trained to ap-
proach subliminal Black faces and to avoid subliminal White faces
sat closer to the Black confederate and oriented their bodies more
directly toward the Black confederate than participants who were
trained to avoid Blacks and to approach Whites or to respond in a
neutral way.
5
General Discussion
Our goal in the present studies was to examine the impact of
approachavoidance orientations on implicit racial attitudes and
interracial behavior. The results from this research provide evi-
dence of a direct causal relationship between approaching racial
categories and implicit racial attitudes and behaviors. Specifically,
the results from Studies 1–3 consistently demonstrate that regard-
less of whether participants were explicitly instructed to approach
Blacks, were trained to respond to the word approach when
subliminally presented with photographs of Black faces, or were
simply shown how to pull a joystick toward themselves when
presented with pictures of Blacks faces, approach orientations
improved implicit attitudes toward this social category. As ex-
pected, the type of nontarget comparison category in the training
procedure did not attenuate this pattern. Regardless of whether
participants approached Blacks and avoided Whites or approached
Blacks and avoided Asians, training in approaching Blacks re-
duced IAT effects. Furthermore, the results from Study 4 revealed
that this type of training can also influence nonverbal behaviors in
an actual interaction with a target category member. Specifically,
we found that subliminal training in approaching Blacks led to
more immediacy and openness toward a Black partner as rated
online by the confederate during the interaction.
It is important here to discuss more specifically how implicit
attitudes can be influenced by training in approaching social cat-
egories. In accordance with current theorizing, we assumed that
pulling an object toward the self facilitates positive affective
processing (Neumann & Strack, 2000a). Specifically, we predicted
and found that participants who had extensive practice in ap-
proaching a member of a social category by pulling a joystick
toward the self demonstrated more positive attitudes toward
Blacks. Furthermore, although current theorizing also assumes that
pushing an object away from the self facilitates negative affective
processing (Neumann & Strack, 2002a), most of this research has
not tested this assumption against an adequate neutral condition. In
contrast to this theorizing, we did not predict or demonstrate this
effect. Specifically, participants who were trained to avoid Blacks
did not differ in their attitudes toward this racial group from
participants in a control condition who were trained to respond to
this social category in a neutral way (i.e., sideways). On the basis
of previous research related to nonstereotypic training (Kawakami
et al., 2000, 2005) as well as the assumption that avoiding Blacks
is already highly automatized (Dovidio et al., 1997, 2002; Fazio et
al. 1995; Neumann et al., 2004; Phills & Kawakami, 2005), we did
not expect that practice in a well-learned response would have a
significant effect.
It is interesting that recent theorizing related to motor and
valence compatibility effects might seem to suggest an opposing
set of predictions (Barsalou et al., 2003; Fo¨rster, 2004). In partic-
ular, this research would suggest that for objects that have strong
preexisting evaluative associations, approach and avoidance be-
haviors would only influence attitudes if the behaviors and the
initial attitudes were compatible. For example, Fo¨rster (2004)
found that avoidance behaviors only influenced attitudes toward
foods with a preexisting negative valence (e.g., beef lung) and
approach behaviors only influenced attitudes toward foods with a
preexisting positive valence (e.g., a popular soft drink). In partic-
ular, this model predicts that if the valence of the object and the
evaluative implications of the behavior are compatible, then the
sources of the valence are hard to distinguish and the two valences
combine and lead to greater polarization. However, if the valences
are incompatible (i.e., if the object is positive and avoided or if the
object is negative and approached), it is easier to discriminate
between the sources, and the approach or avoidance behavior will
have no influence. In the present context, in contrast to the actual
results and expectations, this model would predict that avoidance
behaviors would make attitudes toward Blacks more negative and
that approach behaviors would not affect attitudes toward Blacks
because the valences of the two processes are incompatible.
Whereas previous results related to this motor compatibility
model have used simple nonsocial targets with unambiguous va-
lence associations, the focus of the present research was on eval-
uative responses toward Blacks. Although these responses have
been shown to be predominantly negative on recent implicit mea-
sures (Dovidio et al., 1997; Fazio et al., 1995; Greenwald et al.,
1998), Whites’ responses to this category are typically complex
and ambivalent, containing both positive and negative elements
(Dovidio & Gaertner, 1998; Dovidio, Kawakami, Smoak, & Gaert-
ner, in press; Gaertner & Dovidio, 1986; Katz, 1981; McConahay,
1986). It is therefore possible that approach behaviors toward this
category may have activated different parts of a more complex
knowledge structure, which resulted in the activation of a more
positive construct and attitudes that were less prejudicial than
normal.
However, it is also important to note that the procedures used by
Fo¨rster (2004) and our procedures differed in the extent to which
the participants approached the target object and the timing of the
approach behaviors. Whereas the Fo¨rster (2004) studies required
participants to evaluate the objects while simultaneously flexing or
extending their arms over a short period of time, the present studies
5
Because the training targeted Black men, both male and female par
-
ticipants were paired with a confederate who was Black and male. Addi-
tional analyses examining the effects of participant sex indicated that this
variable did not interact with the training. Specifically, the Training
Participant Sex interaction was not significant, F(1, 41) 0.33, p .72.
Nevertheless, we also investigated responses by male and female partici-
pants separately in subsequent analyses. Planned comparisons indicated
that women in the approach Blacks–avoid Whites condition displayed
greater immediacy (M ⫽⫺0.42) than did women in the avoid Blacks–
approach Whites or sideways control training conditions (M 0.34),
t(28) 2.98, p .006. Although a perusal of the means and planned
comparisons indicated that the levels of immediacy displayed by men in
the approach Blacks–avoid Whites condition (M ⫽⫺0.24) and men in the
avoid Blacks–approach Whites or sideways control training conditions
(M 0.04) were in the same direction as the women, this difference was
smaller. Furthermore, at least partially on the basis of the fact that there
were only 13 men in this study, the results were nonsignificant, t(10)
0.95, p .37.
967
APPROACHING SOCIAL CATEGORIES
required participants to complete an implicit evaluation task after
extensive practice in approaching or avoiding members of the
social category. We propose that this latter procedure actually
changed the traditional approach or avoidance tendencies toward
this category. In particular, because participants are initially more
oriented toward avoiding Blacks, positive attitudes are incompat-
ible. However, after 480 trials in approaching members of this
category, participants become more oriented toward approaching
Blacks and therefore positive attitudes become compatible and
negative attitudes become incompatible. This latter process can
therefore be perceived to be in accordance with and not contra-
dictory to the motor compatibility model.
Recent theorizing by Higgins and his colleagues (Fo¨rster, Hig-
gins, & Idson, 1998; Fo¨rster, Higgins, & Strack, 2000; Higgins,
1997; Higgins, Roney, Crowe, & Hymes, 1994) further suggests
that approach and avoidance orientations may be directly related to
regulatory focus. In particular, approach behaviors are associated
with a promotion focus and an emphasis on achieving one’s ideals.
People in a promotion focus are more apt to take risks and be
adventurous. This type of focus could imply a greater willingness
to meet new people from diverse backgrounds and races. Avoid-
ance behaviors, alternatively, are associated with a prevention
focus and an emphasis on norms and oughts. People in a preven-
tion focus tend to play it safe and to protect themselves from the
unknown. This type of focus would therefore imply less of a
willingness to meet people from different backgrounds and races.
By training people to automate their approach behaviors, the
present paradigm may be increasing their tendencies to focus on
promotion rather than prevention strategies.
Although the present set of results consistently demonstrates
that approach behaviors can influence implicit prejudice, future
research that examines the impact of these procedures on regula-
tory focus and motor compatibility directly is clearly warranted.
This research should highlight the differences between traditional
manipulations of approach and/or avoidance and training in ap-
proach and/or avoidance and the implications of each of these
types of strategies for changes in attitudes to social categories that
have more univalent evaluative associations (e.g., child molesters,
skinheads) and those that are likely to have ambivalent evaluative
associations (e.g., ethnic and racial groups).
Whereas previous research has primarily demonstrated the
causal effects of approach and avoidance behaviors on changes in
explicit attitudes, the present research extends these finding by
focusing on implicit attitudes. Methodologically, our use of an
implicit measure of attitudes, the race IAT, along with our manip-
ulation of approach–avoidance orientations using both subliminal
and supraliminal training procedures reveal that these effects can
occur in a largely automatic fashion, outside of participants’
awareness and beyond their conscious control (Bargh, 1997).
These aspects of the research limit the possibility that self-
presentational concerns and/or demand characteristics provide vi-
able explanations for these results. Conceptually, these findings
are important because of the significance of implicit attitudes to
the activation of stereotypes and interracial behavior. Specifically,
recent research has demonstrated that although explicit attitudes
toward social categories are predictive of explicit controllable
behavior, implicit attitudes are predictive of more implicit, subtle
behaviors (Dovidio et al., 1997, 2002; Fazio et al., 1995;
Kawakami et al., 2005, 2007). Furthermore, because of social
norms that condone the occurrence of explicit stereotypes, preju-
dice, and discrimination, implicit stereotyping, prejudice, and
other subtle forms of intergroup bias may be more prevalent and
damaging to outgroup members (Gaertner & Dovidio, 1986).
Examining different strategies that reduce these implicit biases
therefore becomes critical. Although it is useful for future research
to include both implicit and explicit measures of prejudice in the
procedure, the present findings related to training in approaching
Blacks can be added to the evolving list of effective strategies
found to reduce implicit biases (Blair, 2002).
It is worth noting that the present research provides initial
evidence that approach orientations can influence not only atti-
tudes but also actual behavior in an interracial interaction. Specif-
ically, this research shows for the first time that participants who
have extensive training in approaching Blacks showed more im-
mediacy and openness for communication with a Black interaction
partner. Theoretically, the effect of training on immediacy behav-
iors may occur indirectly or directly. In terms of the indirect route,
training in approach–avoidance orientation influences implicit at-
titudes, as we demonstrated in Studies 1, 2, and 3. Implicit atti-
tudes, in turn, influence behaviors, particularly those that occur
with minimal awareness and control, such as nonverbal behaviors
(Dovidio et al., 1997, 2002). However, it is also possible that
approach–avoidance tendencies may represent such a fundamental
orientation toward a group that exposure to the social category
itself may affect behavioral responses directly, without mediation
by attitude or stereotype activation (Kawakami et al., 2002). Ap-
proaching a member of a group may imply opening oneself up for
close interpersonal interactions. Indirect and direct effects, how-
ever, are not mutually exclusive, and it is possible that both are
influential. Thus future researchers might productively consider
both routes of influence by investigating the role of implicit
attitudes and by examining a wider range of behaviors, including
more controllable and overt behaviors as well as nonverbal behav-
iors (see Dovidio et al., 2002).
The contact hypothesis, as described by Allport (1954), pro-
posed that negative attitudes toward stigmatized or negatively
stereotyped groups can be ameliorated through appropriately struc-
tured intergroup contact. In general, research has provided support
for this hypothesis, with people explicitly reporting more positive
attitudes toward stigmatized outgroup members after positive in-
teractions (for reviews, see Dovidio et al., 2003; Pettigrew, 1998;
Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006; Stephan, 1987). Although obviously at
a much more fundamental level, theorizing related to approach–
avoidance orientations may bear some resemblance to the contact
hypothesis. The finding that approaching a member of a social
category can make people more positive toward that category
(Dovidio et al., 2003; Pettigrew, 1998; Pettigrew & Tropp, 2000)
is in accordance with the basic assumptions that contact between
group members can lead to more favorable attitudes (Allport,
1954). While the contact hypothesis is clearly more complex and
multifaceted because of an emphasis on the social environment
and the specific set of boundary conditions necessary for this effect
to occur (Pettigrew, 1998; Pettigrew & Tropp, 2000, 2006;
Stephan, 1987), the present research related to approach behaviors
focuses on a more basic and limited mechanism possibly related to
initial automatic responses to outgroup members. Notwithstanding
that this work does not speak directly to the more general questions
related to the impact of contact in everyday settings over an
968
KAWAKAMI, PHILLS, STEELE, AND DOVIDIO
extended period of time, our results provide consistent evidence
that even a limited set of approach behaviors can improve inter-
group attitudes. Furthermore, although these findings suggest a
direct link between moving toward a member of a social category
and evaluation of that category, more research is needed to under-
stand how approach behaviors can influence the quality and quan-
tity of contact with outgroup members over time and how this, in
turn, might influence racial attitudes.
To better understand the relationship between basic approach–
avoidance processes, attitudes, and intergroup behavior, future
researchers also need to focus on the causal bidirectionality of this
relationship. On the basis of the proposal that social embodiment
can function both as a response and as a stimulus, we assume that
the interaction between embodiment and cognition is bidirectional
(Barsalou et al., 2003). Specifically, we would predict not only that
participants will be more positive toward a social category after
approach behaviors but that they will be slower to approach a
negative social category because approach behaviors are incongru-
ent with negative evaluations.
Recent evidence from several laboratories provides support for
this assumption (Chen & Bargh, 1999; Solarz, 1960). Results from
experiments by Chen and Bargh (1999), for example, revealed that
participants were faster at pulling a lever toward themselves than
pushing a lever away from themselves when presented with a word
that was positive and faster to push than pull the lever when
presented with a word that was negative. Furthermore, Castelli,
Zogmaister, Smith, and Arcuri (2004) and Vaes, Paladino, Castelli,
Leyens, and Giovanazzi (2003), when using social stimuli, found
that approach orientations, represented by movement toward the
social stimuli, were facilitated by positive groups such as child
counselors and that avoidance behaviors were facilitated by neg-
ative categories such as outgroup members. Recent studies in our
laboratory (Phills, Kawakami, Divecha, Steele, & Dovidio, 2007)
also demonstrated that attitudes toward social categories can in-
fluence approach and avoidance orientations toward members of
these groups. In particular, we found that changing the evaluative
associations related to social categories through training influ-
enced the subsequent speed and extent to which participants ap-
proached group members.
In conclusion, the present set of studies provides new evidence
of a causal relationship between approaching and avoiding social
categories and implicit racial attitudes and immediacy in social
interactions. Besides providing further conceptual insight into the
nature and function of attitudes (Eagly & Chaiken, 1998; Green-
wald & Banaji, 1995) and evidence concerning how implicit
responses can be altered, the present work suggests new ways to
combat unconscious biases and to promote positive intergroup
communication.
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Accepted December 6, 2006
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APPROACHING SOCIAL CATEGORIES
... These approach and avoidance behaviours also shape social evaluations (Kawakami et al., 2007;Phills et al., 2011;Slepian et al., 2012;Van Dessel et al., 2018Woud et al., 2008Woud et al., , 2013. First, some work shows that approachavoidance behaviours influence individual interpersonal evaluations. ...
... A similar effect is obtained when participants move a figure representing the self towards (i.e., approach) and away from (i.e., avoidance) the faces instead of using a joystick (Woud et al., 2013). Second, research documents that approach and avoidance behaviours towards individuals influence evaluations of the groups they belong to (e.g., Blacks; Kawakami et al., 2007;Phills et al., 2011;Turks;Van Dessel et al., 2020). For example, repeatedly pulling a joystick towards the body (i.e., approach) in response to pictures of Turkish people leads to less negative evaluations of this group as a whole than repeatedly pushing a joystick away from the body (i.e., avoidance; Van Dessel et al., 2020). ...
... First, the social environment is generally reduced to words or fixed pictures presented on a screen and the behaviours are frequently operationalised through overly elementary and ecologically-stripped motor responses (e.g., basic arm movements; Kawakami et al., 2007;Phills et al., 2011;Slepian et al., 2012;Van Dessel et al., 2020;Vandenbosch & De Houwer, 2011;Woud et al., 2008) or through their mere symbolic representations (e.g., movement of a schematic figure representing the self; Van Dessel et al., 2018;Woud et al., 2013). In doing so, past research overlooked the fact that real social interactions involve parties which are dynamic and afford a broad range of specific whole-body interpersonal approach-avoidance behaviours (Valenti & Gold, 1991). ...
Article
Full-text available
Research suggests that interpersonal approach-avoidance behaviours influence group evaluations. However, previous work partly neglected the multi-sensory and contextual cues at stake during interpersonal interactions and may offer a limited picture of the phenomenon. Here, we argue that immersive virtual reality (IVR) represents a useful tool to address this issue. In IVR, we implemented interpersonal approach-avoidance behaviours and tested their construct validity. Based on a careful examination of the literature, we defined two construct validity criteria: the evaluative influence of repeated approach-avoidance behaviours as well as the activation of the corresponding neuropsychological systems. In two experiments (NExp1 = 199, NExp2 = 205), we tested whether, compared to avoidance, approach leads to more positive group evaluations on self-report, reaction time based and behavioural intention measures. Additionally, we investigated whether the IVR operationalisations influence the neuropsychological systems assumed to underlie approach-avoidance behaviours. Overall, the findings are not consistent with the hypotheses and do not conclusively validate our IVR approach-avoidance operationalisation. Although additional research should examine more thoroughly the issues raised by the current work by investigating new ways of implementing approach-avoidance in IVR, the present contribution paves the way for such future developments. Despite these challenges, we encourage a consideration of the full-fledged subtleties of social interactions via adequate tools (IVR) for the study of approach-avoidance.
... In an approach and avoidance training, contrary to the procedure used in Caccioppo et al.'s (1993) work, approach and avoidance movements are not performed during the evaluation, but before. In one of the most influential studies illustrating this kind of effect, Kawakami et al. (2007) successfully changed how non-Black participants evaluated Black people (on an IAT; see Figure 4.2). By repeatedly making participants approach photographs of Blacks, Kawakami et al. (2007) showed that movements influence subsequent indirect evaluations. ...
... In one of the most influential studies illustrating this kind of effect, Kawakami et al. (2007) successfully changed how non-Black participants evaluated Black people (on an IAT; see Figure 4.2). By repeatedly making participants approach photographs of Blacks, Kawakami et al. (2007) showed that movements influence subsequent indirect evaluations. In their original paper, Kawakami et al. (2007) showed that these movements impacted participants' IAT performance as well as their immediacy behaviors toward Black people such as body orientation toward them or seating (see Word et al., 1974). ...
... By repeatedly making participants approach photographs of Blacks, Kawakami et al. (2007) showed that movements influence subsequent indirect evaluations. In their original paper, Kawakami et al. (2007) showed that these movements impacted participants' IAT performance as well as their immediacy behaviors toward Black people such as body orientation toward them or seating (see Word et al., 1974). This intervention gave birth to the approach and avoidance training procedures, which popularity grew outside of intergroup relationships. the key used to categorize positive words and Black faces was the same compared to a control condition where participants did not perform any approach and avoidance movement, a pattern usually associated with a more positive evaluation of Black people. ...
Thesis
In the field of implicit social cognition, indirect evaluative responses represent an opportunity to overcome some of the limitations of self-report. Theoretically capturing something progressively encoded over time and guiding our behaviors, these measures would allow us to determine the attitude that people have towards something, even when these people would not or could not reveal their preferences. For most theoretical models accounting for these behavioral responses, it is through repeated experience that we develop indirect evaluative responses. Recent experimental work, however, highlighted the impact that simple instructions can have on these evaluative responses. Throughout this dissertation, we argue that the effects of repeated experience and simple instructions differ. To investigate this question, we first developed an approach-avoidance training paradigm in which our participants were asked to repeatedly approach and avoid stimuli. After showing that new indirect evaluative responses emerged from this type of training (Exp. 1a–2), we compared this experimental paradigm to an instruction-based procedure (Exp. 3–7). Of these five studies comparing the two procedures on several types of indirect evaluative responses, across different populations, and in different situations, two revealed greater effectiveness of approach and avoidance training (the other three were inconclusive). Two additional experiments addressed the issue of naive theories that individuals might have about this issue (Exp. 8 & 9). Taken together, these results are consistent with recent theoretical advances in the field of implicit social cognition and lead us to recommend paradigms such as approach and avoidance training over paradigms based on simple instructions.
... It is helpful to frame nonverbal behavior in interracial interactions using immediacy behavior because "approach" behaviors typically are associated with liking, and "avoidance" behaviors are associated with more negative attitudes. Few studies, however, have specifically focused on immediacy behaviors in interracial interactions; especially whether they naturally occur more in same-race interactions versus interracial interactions (Kawakami et al., 2007). ...
... Other studies have also measured nonverbal immediacy, but found that only interpersonal distance (not forward lean, eye contact, nor shoulder orientation) changed as a result of the demographic makeup of the dyad, such that white participants put more distance between themselves and a Black interviewer than a white interviewer (Word et al., 1974). In a separate program of research, it has been found that immediacy toward outgroup members could be enhanced by having participants exhibit "approach" behavior toward outgroup members, such as moving a joystick toward a Black face (Kawakami et al., 2007). Therefore, perhaps future research should explore other ways to enhance immediacy toward outgroup members, capture it in a different way than in the present study, or observe other potential behaviors that could impact interracial interactions. ...
Article
How might the typical white perceiver behave while interviewing with a Black manager who puts her hands on her hips when she speaks? Would they act uncomfortable and anxious, leaning away from her? Would they engage with her and smile more? Lastly, would they react differently if the manager was a white man or a Black man? Even though it is known that Black people in expansive positions are perceived more negatively than white people in expansive positions, there has yet to be an observation of white people’s nonverbal behavior in interactions with Black and white individuals in different body positions (Karmali, 2019). White undergraduates from the University of Maine completed a recorded Zoom mock interview with a supposed interviewer (target) whose Zoom photograph differed by race (Black vs. white), gender (male vs. female), and body positioning (expansive vs. restrictive). Participants' impressions of the interviewer and attitudes toward race via the Modern Racism Scale (McConahay, 1986) were collected, and I coded participant’s nonverbal immediacy behavior during the interview. I first hypothesized that participants would show less nonverbal immediacy and positivity toward Black men in restrictive positions, white women in restrictive positions, and white men in expansive positions than all other groups. I also hypothesized that participants would rate white interviewers more positively overall, but among Black interviewers, participants would rate Black women the least positively and participants who interviewed with white interviewers would act more positively overall, but among Black interviewers, those who interviewed with Black men in expansive positions would act the least positively than all other Black interviewers. Lastly, I hypothesized that more negative racial attitudes, as evidenced by participants’ scores on the Modern Racism Scale (McConahay, 1986), would be negatively correlated with their nonverbal immediacy behavior, global positivity, and their positive ratings of the Black interviewer. This research expands our understanding of how to effectively tailor DEI initiatives that foster positive attitudes toward Black people in power.
... With regard to successful strategies in behavioral change (e.g., Kawakami et al., 2007;Gocłowska et al., 2013), neuroscience offers some significant insight. Amodio and Devine (2006) suggested that (1) implicit stereotyping and (2) implicit evaluation have different neural substrates of memory systems and predict different kinds of behaviors. ...
... For example, asking people to actively generate counterstereotypes rather than being passively primed resulted in increased creativity (Gocłowska et al., 2013). Similarly, participants in Kawakami et al. (2007) made "approach" versus "avoidance" movements while being presented faces of White and Black people. Those who were trained to approach Black people showed less discomfort during actual interaction with Black people. ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper conducted a preliminary study of reviewing and exploring bias strategies using a framework of a different discipline: change management. The hypothesis here is: If the major problem of implicit bias strategies is that they do not translate into actual changes in behaviors, then it could be helpful to learn from studies that have contributed to successful change interventions such as reward management, social neuroscience, health behavioral change, and cognitive behavioral therapy. The result of this integrated approach is: (1) current bias strategies can be improved and new ones can be developed with insight from adjunct study fields in change management; (2) it could be more sustainable to invest in a holistic and proactive bias strategy approach that targets the social environment, eliminating the very condition under which biases arise; and (3) while implicit biases are automatic, future studies should invest more on strategies that empower people as “change agents” who can act proactively to regulate the very environment that gives rise to their biased thoughts and behaviors.
... In contrast, individuals with an interdependent self-construal tend to pay close attention to the relationship between the self and others in their lives; this allows for the assumption that such individuals place great importance in the pro-generation investment of their parents. Further, they tend to put the self into concrete, context-dependent information for processing, and tend to think of future time as being closer (Kawakami et al., 2007;Kühnen & Oyserman, 2002). Furthermore, it is easier for individuals with an interdependent self-construal to consider the possible outcomes of future events and the impact of any event as immediate, so they tend to have a high future orientation (Usunier & Valette-Florence, 2007). ...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: Cultural orientation and interdependent self-construal can moderate the relationship between perceived pro-generation investment and future orientation of young adults. To test how interdependent self-construal moderate the relationship between pro-generation investment and future orientation of young adults from two different cultural ecologies was the aim of the current study. Methods: A cross-cultural comparison was conducted among study participants from China, Germany, and the United States. Interdependent self-construal, perceived pro-generation investment by parents (parental investment), and future orientation were measured. Cross-cultural data were collected from 205 college students in China, a collectivist culture, and 169 college students in Germany (n = 50) and the United States (n = 119), which are individualist cultures. We examined a three-way interaction with cultural orientation and interdependent self-construal as moderators in the relationship between perceived parental investment and future orientation. Results: In the collectivist cultural context, there appeared no moderating effect of interdependent self-construal on the relationship between perceived parental investment and future orientation, although interdependent self-construal and perceived parental investment predicted future orientation. In the individualistic cultural context, there was a moderating effect. For individuals high in interdependent self-construal, future orientation remained stable as perceived parental investment increased. For individuals low in interdependent self-construal, future orientation decreased as perceived parental investment increased. Conclusions: The findings have practical implications in that parents should follow the cultural orientation of their background and provide their children with individualized investment and education to shape the future orientation of their offspring.
... Implicit bias reduction methods typically involve participants as passive recipients of a treatment completed at the behest of an experimenter. Many of these studies, for example, involve some form of priming (e.g., exposing participants to counterstereotypic exemplars; Dasgupta & Greenwald, 2001) conditioning (e.g., Olson & Fazio, 2006), or mundane behavior (e.g., pulling or pushing a lever to activate approach/avoidance; Kawakami, Phills, Steele, & Dovidio, 2007). The participants do not know why they are completing the task, although it does, passively, shift their responses on measures of implicit bias. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
A primary goal of prejudice and stereotyping research is to reduce intergroup disparities arising from various forms of bias. For the last 30 years, much, perhaps most, of this research has focused on implicit bias as the crucial construct of interest. There has been, however, considerable confusion and debate about what this construct is, how to measure it, whether it predicts behavior, how much it contributes to intergroup disparities, and what would signify successful intervention against it. We argue that this confusion arises in part because much work in this area has focused narrowly on the automatic processes of implicit bias without sufficient attention to other relevant psychological constructs and processes, such as people’s values, goals, knowledge, and self-regulation (Devine, 1989). We believe that basic research on implicit bias itself is important and can contribute to reducing intergroup disparities, but those potential contributions diminish if and when the research disregards controlled processes and the personal dilemma faced by sincerely nonprejudiced people who express bias unintentionally. We advocate a renewed focus on this personal dilemma as an important avenue for progress.
... Another telling example of how people often infer their preferences based on (past) behavior, is the finding that our preferences will change when we have approached or chosen a particular stimulus before (Kawakami et al., 2007;Schonberg & Katz, 2020;Van Dessel et al., 2019). The mere act of choosing something (even if the choice is in fact cunningly manipulated by an experimenter), similar to the mere act of perceiving something, is shown to increase subsequent preference for it. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
More than 40 years ago, pioneering social psychologist Robert Zajonc (1980) published his seminal work titled “Preferences need no inferences” in which he argued for the primacy of affect over cognition. Affective evaluation (the preference) comes first, he claimed, and only then do cognitive processes (the inferences) kick in. The view is untenable in light of recent predictive processing accounts of the mind, which hold that all mental functioning is built from (approximate) Bayesian inference. It casts perception, action, and learning as inference but, perhaps counterintuitively, valuation too. We discuss how valuation —understood as the process of how we come to value, prefer or like things— emerges as a function of learning and inference, and how this conception may help us resolve traditional conundrums in the science of aesthetic experience, such as the nature of the "beholder's share", the link between curiosity and appreciation, Keats' "negative capability" and the tension between the mere exposure principle and the goldilocks (optimal level) principle.
Article
Racial attitudes, beliefs, and motivations lie at the center of many influential theories of prejudice and discrimination. The extent to which such theories can meaningfully explain behavior hinges on accurate measurement of these latent constructs. We evaluated the validity properties of 25 race-related scales in a sample of 910,066 respondents using various tools, including dynamic fit indices, item response theory, and nomological nets. Despite showing adequate internal reliability, many scales demonstrated poor model fit and had latent score distributions showing clear floor or ceiling effects, results that illustrate deficiencies in these measures' ability to capture their intended latent construct. Nomological nets further suggested that the theoretical space of "racial prejudice" is crowded with scales that may not capture meaningfully distinct latent constructs. We provide concrete recommendations for both scale selection and scale renovation and outline implications for overlooking measurement issues in the study of prejudice and discrimination.
Chapter
This chapter takes a closer look at solidarity (to whom do we owe) in relation to distributive social justice (what do we owe). It considers both the social and the individual level, focusing on two questions: (1) Why do people express solidarity with ‘the other’ (inclusionary outgroup solidarity), in addition to, or instead of with ‘the same’ (exclusionary ingroup solidarity)? (2) What does solidarity imply at the macro-meso level of society, and what are social-psychological triggers of solidarity? The chapter reviews psychological and sociological literature highlighting (a) how solidarity can be inclusive as well as exclusive as well as (b) triggers and barriers of solidarity between different identities, groups and communities.
Article
Recent evidence suggests differential patterns of social behavior following an inflammatory challenge, such that increases in inflammation may not uniformly lead to social withdrawal. Indeed, increases in inflammation have been associated with enhanced self-reported motivation to approach a specific close other, and greater neural sensitivity to positive social cues. However, no known studies have examined the association between inflammation in response to an inflammatory challenge and social behavior in humans, nor has past research examined specifically how approach and withdrawal behavior may differ based on whether the target is a close other or stranger. To address this, 31 participants (ages 18-24) received the influenza vaccine to elicit a low-grade inflammatory response. The morning before and approximately 24 hours after the vaccine, participants provided a blood sample and completed a computer task assessing automatic (implicit) approach and withdrawal behavior toward a specific close other and strangers. Greater increases in the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) in response to the vaccine were associated with an increase in accuracy in avoiding strangers and a decrease in accuracy in approaching them. Increases in IL-6 were also associated with a decrease in reaction time to approach a close other, but only when controlling for baseline IL-6 levels. There were no associations between change in IL-6 and changes in self-reported motivation to engage in social behavior with either close others, or strangers. Together, these findings reveal that increases in inflammation following the influenza vaccine are associated with automatic social behavior, especially behavior suggesting avoidance of unfamiliar social targets and ease in approaching close others. These data add to the growing literature suggesting that the association between inflammation and social behavior includes both social withdrawal and social approach, depending on the specific target.
Chapter
Full-text available
Finding ways to reduce prejudice and discrimination is the central issue in attacking racism in our society. Yet this book is almost unique among scientific volumes in its focus on that goal. This important book combines critical analysis of theories about how to reduce prejudice and discrimination with cutting-edge empirical research conducted in real-world settings, as well as in controlled laboratory situations. This book's outstanding contributors focus on a common set of questions about ways to reduce intergroup conflict, prejudice, and stereotyping. They summarize their own research, as well as others, interpret the conclusions, and suggest implications concerning the practical methods that have been, or could be, used in programs aimed at reducing intergroup conflict. The chapters present solidly based critical analyses and research findings in clear, reader-friendly prose. This book evolved from the Sixteenth Annual Claremont Symposium on Applied Social Psychology. Each Symposium in the series concentrates on a single area in which social psychological knowledge is being applied to the resolution of a current social problem. Ideal for teachers, social workers, administrators, managers, and other social practitioners who are concerned about prejudice and discrimination, this book will also serve as a valuable foundation of knowledge in courses that examine this topic.
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The present research suggests that automatic and controlled intergroup biases can be modified through diversity education. In 2 experiments, students enrolled in a prejudice and conflict seminar showed significantly reduced implicit and explicit anti-Black biases, compared with control students. The authors explored correlates of prejudice and stereotype reduction. In each experiment, seminar students' implicit and explicit change scores positively covaried with factors suggestive of affective and cognitive processes, respectively. The findings show the malleability of implicit prejudice and stereotypes and suggest that these may effectively be changed through affective processes.
Article
The present research, involving three experiments, examined the existence of implicit attitudes of Whites toward Blacks, investigated the relationship between explicit measures of racial prejudice and implicit measures of racial attitudes, and explored the relationship of explicit and implicit attitudes to race-related responses and behavior. Experiment 1, which used a priming technique, demonstrated implicit negative racial attitudes (i.e., evaluative associations) among Whites that were largely disassociated from explicit, self-reported racial prejudice. Experiment 2 replicated the priming results of Experiment 1 and demonstrated, as hypothesized, that explicit measures predicted deliberative race-related responses (juridic decisions), whereas the implicit measure predicted spontaneous responses (racially primed word completions). Experiment 3 extended these findings to interracial interactions. Self-reported (explicit) racial attitudes primarily predicted the relative evaluations of Black and White interaction partners, whereas the response latency measure of implicit attitude primarily predicted differences in nonverbal behaviors (blinking and visual contact). The relation between these findings and general frameworks of contemporary racial attitudes is considered.
Article
Three studies tested basic assumptions derived from a theoretical model based on the dissociation of automatic and controlled processes involved in prejudice. Study 1 supported the model's assumption that high- and low-prejudice persons are equally knowledgeable of the cultural stereotype. The model suggests that the stereotype is automatically activated in the presence of a member (or some symbolic equivalent) of the stereotyped group and that low-prejudice responses require controlled inhibition of the automatically activated stereotype. Study 2, which examined the effects of automatic stereotype activation on the evaluation of ambiguous stereotype-relevant behaviors performed by a race-unspecified person, suggested that when subjects' ability to consciously monitor stereotype activation is precluded, both high- and low-prejudice subjects produce stereotype-congruent evaluations of ambiguous behaviors. Study 3 examined high- and low-prejudice subjects' responses in a consciously directed thought-listing task. Consistent with the model, only low-prejudice subjects inhibited the automatically activated stereotype-congruent thoughts and replaced them with thoughts reflecting equality and negations of the stereotype. The relation between stereotypes and prejudice and implications for prejudice reduction are discussed.
Article
In reporting Implicit Association Test (IAT) results, researchers have most often used scoring conventions described in the first publication of the IAT (A. G. Greenwald, D. E. McGhee, & J. L. K. Schwartz, 1998). Demonstration IATs available on the Internet have produced large data sets that were used in the current article to evaluate alternative scoring procedures. Candidate new algorithms were examined in terms of their (a) correlations with parallel self-report measures, (b) resistance to an artifact associated with speed of responding, (c) internal consistency, (d) sensitivity to known influences on IAT measures, and (e) resistance to known procedural influences. The best-performing measure incorporates data from the IAT's practice trials, uses a metric that is calibrated by each respondent's latency variability, and includes a latency penalty for errors. This new algorithm strongly outperforms the earlier (conventional) procedure.