Automatic or standard: Can we shift implicit racial attitudes?

Gregory J Paquin, University of Rhode Island


Research regarding the attitudinal antecedents of racially discriminating behavior is of particular importance as racial diversity in the United States continues to increase. In a two-part experiment we examined racial attitudes as they relate to manipulations in environmental cues and subsequent behaviors. Specifically, we examined whether a subtle environmental manipulation in the form of viewing a positive and negative stereotypical interaction between minority race members in a two minute video segment was associated with a decrease in attitudinal racial bias measured using the Implicit Association Test and differences in subtle discrimination assessed via two subtle discriminatory behavior assessment techniques; a hypothetical budget cut questionnaire and the Lost Email Technique. ^ Participants (N = 69) were recruited from the undergraduate population at the University of Rhode Island and randomized into the positive and negative video conditions. Trained research assistants welcomed participants into the laboratory and directed them to a computer on which to view the video. After viewing the respective videos, participants completed the Implicit Association Test (IAT), three self-report measures designed to obscure the purpose of the study, and a demographics questionnaire all on the same computer. The research assistants then acquired the participants' preferred email addresses, informed them the second half of the study would be sent via email, and introduced participants to the budget cut questionnaire disguised as a departmental requirement for researchers. Twenty-four hours later, the research assistants emailed a link to the second IAT from a pre specified Gmail account. The research assistants paired this email with the lost email sent from a URI.etal email address. This email was addressed (incorrectly) to either a common White or Black name informing the intended recipient that they had been awarded a prestigious scholarship to which they applied. Of interest was the response rate between the emails compared between positive and negative video groups and perceived White and Black recipient names. ^ A series of one tailed t-tests and a logistic regression tested three hypotheses: 1) that the positive video would decrease racial bias on the IAT, 2) that the decrease in bias would remain 24-48 hours as measured by a second IAT, and 3) that the positive video would be related to a decrease in discriminatory behavior. Results revealed that the positive video condition (M = .4320, SD = .4105) significantly differed from the negative video condition (M = .6134, SD = .3533) on the first IAT, t (57) = 1.80, p = .0385, d = .4736. One tailed t-tests did not reveal significant differences between the positive and negative video group on the second IAT 24-48 hours later and on proposed budget cuts on our first behavioral measure. The logistic regression did not reveal a significant interaction effect between video condition, email race, and response rate. However, the logistic regression revealed a main effect that trended toward significance such that the email was more likely returned to the sender when it was addressed to a White name (51%) compared to a Black name (29%), β = -.33, p <.07, d = .69. Implications for educational purposes in a school setting are discussed.^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Education, Multilingual|Education, Educational Psychology|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

Recommended Citation

Gregory J Paquin, "Automatic or standard: Can we shift implicit racial attitudes?" (2014). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1555679.