Sophie Trawalter's research while affiliated with University of Virginia and other places

Publications (50)

Article
Psychology is the study of the mind, how it works, and how it affects behavior. In the context of intergroup relations and, specifically, the study of racism, the tight focus on mind and behavior has meant an incomplete understanding of racism and, crucially, an incomplete—and sometimes harmful—accounting of ways to redress it. Here, we put forth a...
Article
Narratives about Africa as dark, depraved, and diseased justified the exploitation of African land and people. Today, these narratives may still have a hold on people’s fears about disease. We test this in three (pre-COVID-19) experiments ( N = 1,803). Across studies, we find that participants report greater worry about a pandemic originating in Af...
Article
Significance The fight over Confederate monuments has fueled lawsuits, protests, counterprotests, arrests, even terrorism, as we painfully saw in August 2017 in Charlottesville, VA. The fight rests on a debate over whether these monuments represent racism (“hate”) or something ostensibly devoid of racism (“heritage,” “Southern pride”). Herein, we s...
Article
The present work documents the safety concerns of men and women in academia and how these concerns can create opportunity gaps. Across five samples including undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty ( N = 1,812), women reported greater concerns about their safety than did men, and these concerns were associated with re...
Article
Black college students attending historically and predominantly White institutions are increasingly encountering online racial discrimination. This exposure may increase psychological distress and undermine academic performance. Although White bystanders may be well-positioned to challenge racist posts, limited research has examined interventions t...
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Preserving historic buildings can have many purposes, including honoring proud moments in our history as well as acknowledging and redressing shameful ones. The preservation of Antebellum buildings, buildings with an architectural style from the pre-Civil War era that often features symmetrical brick or white-washed façades and columns in a Greek r...
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Those from low socioeconomic status (SES) often lack access to public space and, when they have access, they are often discouraged from using public space. Scholars from human geography and related fields have argued that this limits engagement in civic life and undermines sense of belonging in one's community. In the present work, we consider whet...
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Psychology has been accused of 'psychologizing' racism. Here, we summarize the argument that Psychology routinely neglects structural racism and historical legacies of racism. We then discuss two cases-healthcare and police use of force-in which studying individual bias could benefit from incorporating a focus on structures and history. We close by...
Article
Injured student-athletes rely on university medical staff personnel for care. Do these practitioners exhibit race and/or gender biases in their perceptions of injured student-athletes? While such biases have been widely documented in other medical practitioner populations, they have not been studied in the domain of college athletics. We use a surv...
Article
Unequal treatment based on race is well documented in higher education and healthcare settings. In the present work, we examine racial bias at the intersection of these domains: racial bias in pain-related perceptions among National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 sport medical staff. Using experimental vignettes about a student-a...
Preprint
Here, we advance the ideological migration hypothesis — individuals choose to live in communities with ideologies similar to their own to satisfy their need to belong. In Study 1, incongruity between personal and community ideology predicted greater residential mobility and attraction to more ideologically-congruent communities. In Study 2, partici...
Article
White people often associate Black people with negative information and outcomes. At the same time, many White people value not being or appearing prejudiced. In an inter-race context, these two forces may conflict. Whites may be better able to acquire anti-Black associations that align with their existing explicit or implicit attitudes, but may be...
Article
White American adults assume Blacks feel less pain than do Whites, but only if they believe Blacks have faced greater economic hardship than Whites. The current study investigates when in development children first recognize racial group differences in economic hardship, and examines whether perceptions of hardship inform children's racial bias in...
Preprint
White people often associate Black people with negative information andoutcomes. At the same time, many White people value not being or appearingprejudiced. In an inter-race context, these two forces may conflict. Whitesmay be better able to acquire anti-Black associations that align with theirexisting explicit or implicit attitudes, but may be unm...
Article
Antiprejudice norms and attempts to conceal racial bias have made Whites’ positive treatment of racial minorities attributionally ambiguous. Although some minorities believe Whites’ positivity is genuine, others are suspicious of Whites’ motives and believe their kindness is primarily motivated by desires to avoid appearing prejudiced. For those su...
Article
Black Americans are systematically undertreated for pain relative to white Americans. We examine whether this racial bias is related to false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites (e.g., "black people's skin is thicker than white people's skin"). Study 1 documented these beliefs among white laypersons and revealed that part...
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[This corrects the article DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048546.].
Article
The present work examines whether people assume that those who have faced hardship feel less pain than those who have not, and whether this belief contributes to the perception that Blacks feel less pain than Whites. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants received information about a Black and/or White target person’s life hardship and then rated the...
Article
Many proponents of diversity stress that diversity is good-good for universities to further their educational missions and good for businesses, for hiring talent and generating financial returns to shareholders. In this work, we examined costs of framing diversity as good for organizations vs. fair; specifically, we examined whether framing diversi...
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As a result of prevalent pressure to inhibit prejudice, racial minorities may wonder whether White people’s nonprejudiced behavior is primarily motivated by personal commitments to egalitarianism (i.e., internal motivation) or superficial efforts to appear nonprejudiced (i.e., external motivation). The present work investigated whether minority gro...
Article
In the days of slavery, White people assumed that Black people felt less pain than did White people. This belief was used to justify slavery; it was also used to justify the inhumane treatment of Black men and women in medical research. Today, White Americans continue to believe that Black people feel less pain than do White people although this be...
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People often treat diversity as an objective feature of situations that everyone perceives similarly. The current research shows, however, that disagreement often exists over whether a group is diverse. We argue that diversity judgments diverge because they are social perceptions that reflect, in part, individuals' motivations and experiences, incl...
Article
Previous research indicates that American adults, both Black and White, assume a priori that Black people feel less pain than do White people (Trawalter, Hoffman, & Waytz, 2012, PLoS One, 7[11], 1–8). The present work investigates when in development this bias emerges. Five-, 7-, and 10-year-olds first rated the amount of pain they themselves would...
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The present research provides the first systematic empirical investigation into superhumanization, the attribution of supernatural, extrasensory, and magical mental and physical qualities to humans. Five studies test and support the hypothesis that White Americans superhumanize Black people relative to White people. Studies 1-2b demonstrate this ph...
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Research on inattentional blindness demonstrates that when attending to 1 set of stimuli, people often fail to consciously perceive a task-irrelevant object. In this experiment, we tested for selective inattentional blindness to racial outgroup members. We reasoned that some racial groups would be perceived as more relevant than others, depending o...
Data
Zero-order correlations between self-ratings and ratings of others’ pain. (DOCX)
Data
Unadjusted means and standard deviations for self-ratings and ratings of others’ pain. (DOCX)
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The present work provides evidence that people assume a priori that Blacks feel less pain than do Whites. It also demonstrates that this bias is rooted in perceptions of status and the privilege (or hardship) status confers, not race per se. Archival data from the National Football League injury reports reveal that, relative to injured White player...
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When people make important decisions, such as selecting a job candidate or graduate school applicant based on how well they fit with that imagined ideal. In two experiments we provide evidence that imagining the ideal has unintended consequences. Imagining an ideal candidate for a professional job led participants to preferentially imagine a White...
Article
Here, we advance the ideological migration hypothesis — individuals choose to live in communities with ideologies similar to their own to satisfy their need to belong. In Study 1, incongruity between personal and community ideology predicted greater residential mobility and attraction to more ideologically-congruent communities. In Study 2, partici...
Article
Many White Americans are concerned about appearing prejudiced. How these concerns affect responses during actual interracial interactions, however, remains understudied. The present work examines stress responses to interracial contact-both in the moment, during interracial interactions (Study 1), and over time as individuals have repeated interrac...
Article
This study examines physiological stress responses to the 2008 U.S. presidential election. The week before and after Election Day, participants provided three daily saliva samples, assayed for cortisol (a principal “stress hormone”) and testosterone. Results revealed that, on Election Day, all participants on average and Republicans in particular e...
Article
This study examines physiological stress responses to the 2008 U.S. presidential election. The week before and after Election Day, participants provided three daily saliva samples, assayed for cortisol (a principal “stress hormone”) and testosterone. Results revealed that, on Election Day, all participants on average and Republicans in particular e...
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People use many cues to infer the likelihood of acceptance or rejection in intergroup interactions. Nearly all prior research has focused on personal cues directly given off by the potential interaction partner (e.g., eye contact and smiling). However, we argue that in the context of intergroup interactions, individuals may be especially sensitive...
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The social psychological literature maintains unequivocally that interracial contact is stressful. Yet research and theory have rarely considered how stress may shape behavior during interracial interactions. To address this empirical and theoretical gap, the authors propose a framework for understanding and predicting behavior during interracial i...
Article
The present research investigated the extent to which the stereotype that young Black men are threatening and dangerous has become so robust and ingrained in the collective American unconscious that Black men now capture attention, much like evolved threats such as spiders and snakes. Specifically, using a dot-probe detection paradigm, White partic...
Article
The present study investigated whether the conditions that make interracial contact anxiety-provoking for Whites differ from those that make it anxiety-provoking for Blacks. Specifically, the present work examined interracial anxiety as a function of discussant race (i.e., White or Black) and discussion topic (i.e., race-related or race-neutral). T...
Article
Although previous research has found greater activity in the human amygdala in response to Black male compared with White male targets, the basis of this effect remains unclear. For example, is it race alone that triggers amygdala activity, or do other stimulus cues, in conjunction with racial group membership, also play a critical role in this reg...
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The current work tested whether external motivation to respond without prejudice toward Blacks is associated with biased patterns of selective attention that reflect a threat response to Black individuals. In a dot-probe attentional bias paradigm, White participants with low and high external motivation to respond without prejudice toward Blacks (i...
Article
Recent research finds that interracial interactions can negatively impact executive function. The present study examined whether regulatory focus may moderate this effect. Specifically, prior to an interracial interaction, 45 White female students were told either to try to have a positive interracial exchange (promotion focus), avoid prejudice (pr...
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The present work examined the influence of affective fit in the racial categorization process. Study 1 tested whether famous exemplars of stigmatized and nonstigmatized racial groups are categorized by race at differential rates, depending on whether they are admired or disliked. Using an inverted-face paradigm, Study 2 examined whether racial cate...
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Previous work has found that white individuals who harbor negative racial attitudes toward blacks are particularly likely to be depleted of executive attentional resources after interracial contact. The present study investigated whether engaging in interracial interactions also depletes the executive resources of black individuals as a function of...
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Three studies investigated the veracity of a resource depletion account of the impairment of inhibitory task performance after interracial contact. White individuals engaged in either an interracial or same-race interaction, then completed an ostensibly unrelated Stroop color-naming test. In each study, the self-regulatory demands of the interactio...
Article
Previous research has suggested that Blacks like White interaction partners who make an effort to appear unbiased more than those who do not. We tested the hypothesis that, ironically, Blacks perceive White interaction partners who are more racially biased more positively than less biased White partners, primarily because the former group must make...
Article
Performance on the Iowa Card Task (ICT) is impaired in several populations that demonstrate poor decision-making and risk-taking including patients with damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. For some individuals, adolescence is a period of poor decision-making and risk-taking. Adolescence is also a period of neuroanatomic and neurochemical...
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We investigated whether individual differences in racial bias among white participants predict the recruitment, and potential depletion, of executive attentional resources during contact with black individuals. White individuals completed an unobtrusive measure of racial bias, then interacted with a black individual, and finally completed an ostens...
Article
Experiment 1 indicated that when the White supervisor's negative treatment of a Black subordinate was unconstrained, participant race had no impact on attributions. Conversely, when the treatment was constrained, Black participants reported greater racist attributions than did White participants. Experiment 2 indicated that when the supervisor repo...
Article
The present study explored how media, specifically violent rap music, may influence Blacks’ and Whites’ attribution of Blacks through stereotype priming. When compared to controls and participants exposed to nonviolent Black musicians, those exposed to violent Black musicians reported attributions of a target Black male’s violent behavior that was...

Citations

... Cross-cultural research and master narrative methods are promising approaches to capture direct and indirect influences of the macrosystem and chronosystem on the development of racism and antiracism in youth (Fish & Syed, 2018;Rogers, Niwa, et al., 2021;Syed & McLean, 2021). Additionally, geographic information system and historical data can be leveraged to better understand the impact of the sociohistorical context on youths' racist and anti-racist attitudes, beliefs, and actions (Henderson et al., 2021). Moreover, as the internet and online spaces have become more central contexts for youth development, there is a critical need to study the ways in which youth are being exposed to both racist and anti-racist messages from the broader society and from their social networks within the online context (Hazelbaker et al., 2022). ...
... It also involves helping students to act as agents of change for promoting the fair and equitable treatment of others (Elenbaas et al., 2020;Killen & Dahl, 2021;Killen & Rutland, 2022). Providing opportunities to explore one's racial and ethnic identity is a central goal as well (Abaied & Perry, 2021;Bonilla-Silva, 2015;Hurd et al., 2021;Rivas-Drake et al., 2014;Umaña-Taylor et al., 2018). This program did not address all of these goals. ...
... Preservation's visual culture, in addition to emphasizing the dominant social class, may have more direct, psychological impacts on marginalized groups. Environmental psychology research shows that African Americans experience psychological trauma, in comparison to White people, when viewing some kinds of White material culture, such as antebellum plantation houses (Driskell & Trawalter 2021). Similarly, Chase Quinn, in an article for The Guardian, explores the parallels between this architectural style and Confederate monuments. ...
... 1-21). For example, research indicates the cost of user entry fees often prevents participation and access for lower socio-economic visitors (More & Stevens, 2000;Trawalter et al., 2021). Recent research also suggests women are typically underrepresented and often marginalized in the outdoor recreation realm (Mitten et al., 2018). ...
... Decades of research on the common in-group identity model (Gaertner & Dovidio, 2000) and on the crossed categorization model (Crisp & Hewstone, 1999;2007) suggest that invoking shared identities can indeed be an effective strategy for reducing intergroup prejudice. According to the lens model, if the lenses related to these shared identities are invoked strongly enough, they ought not just to decrease reduce intergroup prejudice, but to perhaps eliminate it entirely (at least for the duration that lenses related to people based on race (Trawalter et al., 2020), the lens of race may be more frequently used than in countries that are less stratified by race. ...
... Health care providers across all specialties including orthopedic surgery show implicit biases related to race and gender, similar to those of the general public [101,102]. Druckman et al. analyzed how sports medical staff responded to studentathlete case vignettes and showed that staff viewed Black athletes as having higher initial pain tolerance after ACL tear compared to their White peers [103]. While such biases have not been directly shown to effect outcomes, it is likely a contributory factor that has to be addressed at the individual level. ...
... People start noticing inequalities between social groups early in life (Rhodes & Baron, 2019;Santhanagopalan et al., 2022;Shutts, 2015). For example, by at least 5 to 7 years of age, children are aware that White people tend to be wealthier than Black people (Elenbaas & Killen, 2016;Mandalaywala et al., 2020;Olson et al., 2012), that men tend to hold higher-status occupations than women (Liben et al., 2001;Miller et al., 2018), and that people of high socioeconomic status tend to have more desirable possessions (Dore et al., 2018;Peretz-Lange et al., 2022). ...
... Disadvantaged minority groups are, broadly, negatively stereotyped. For example, Black and Hispanic people in the U.S. are commonly assumed to be poor, unhealthy, uneducated, and dangerous (Axt & Trawalter, 2017;Eberhardt, 2020;Fiske et al., 2002;Goff et al., 2008;Zou & Cheryan, 2017). People hold this overgeneralized, a priori belief about disadvantaged minorities partially due to illusory correlations: the cognitive tendency to associate things they believe to be rare (i.e., violence) with minority populations (i.e., Blacks, Hispanics; Hamilton & Rose, 1980;McConnell et al., 1994;Mullen & Johnson, 1990). ...
... For example, Whites tend to be less sensitive to the pain experienced by Black people, which suggests that Black defendants, and the families of Black victims, can expect that prosecutors, judges, and juries will be less moved by their capacity to suffer (Trawalter, Hoffman, and Waytz 2016). In this vein, a field study found that jurors were less likely to report that the love, grief, and loss experienced by a victim's family played an important role in their decision-making when victims were Black than when White (Karp and Warshaw 2006). ...
... Compensatory behavior. One trend in the literature is to examine differences in nonverbal behaviors between same race and interracial interactions that is not necessarily negatively valenced but more ambiguous in terms of meaning (e.g., more smiling in interracial interactions than same race interactions) but that may still reflect prejudice in a compensatory fashion (Bergsieker et al., 2010;Kuntsman et al., 2016;Mendes & Koslov, 2013). For example, Mendes and Koslov found that white people in interracial interactions smiled more frequently and longer than their Black interaction partners and white people in same-race interactions (2013). ...