Fear of appearing racist dogs some whites: study

April 2nd, 2008 - 1:04 pm ICT by admin  

New York, April 2 (IANS) Whites who are particularly worried about appearing racist seem to suffer from anxiety that instinctively may cause them to avoid interaction with blacks, according to a provocative new study. Those who participated in the study indicated that they worry about inadvertently getting into trouble for somehow seeming biased.

Consequently, they behaved in a way that shows how people respond when faced with threatening stimuli: they instinctively look at what is making them feel nervous and then ignore it, the study suggested.

Findings of the study by researchers at Northwestern University have been published in the latest issue of the journal Psychological Science.

In this case, the participants, 15 white college students, indicated that they were motivated to respond in non-prejudiced ways toward blacks primarily for appearance’s sake because of concern about social disapproval - rather than because of their internal values.

They then took a standard psychological test that measures attention patterns related to anxiety provoking or threatening stimuli.

White students initially focussed on images of black faces with neutral expressions, relative to white faces with similar expressions, and then quickly disengaged and paid greater attention to the white faces.

Participants who were selected for the study first had to complete a ‘Motivation to Respond Without Prejudice Scale’. Those who were selected had scores that indicated that they were externally, rather than internally, motivated to not appear racially biased.

On a one-to-nine scale, they rated their agreement with statements that included: “Because of today’s politically correct standards, I try to appear non-prejudiced toward black people”.

They then participated in a computer test that featured in all the trials a black face and a white face, with either similar neutral expressions or similar happy expressions.

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