Are members of low status groups perceived as bad, or badly off? Egalitarian negative associations and automatic prejudice

E. L. UHLMANN, V. Brescoll, E. Paluck

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

July 2006, vol. 42, n°4, pp.491-499

Departments: Management & Human Resources

Three studies explored the hypothesis that implicit measures of prejudice can tap negative, yet egalitarian associations. In Study 1, automatically associating African Americans with oppression predicted greater automatic prejudice. In Studies 2 and 3, classically conditioning associations between the novel group Noffians and words like oppressed, maltreated, and victimized led to greater automatic prejudice against Noffians. Results suggest that White Americans' negative automatic associations with African Americans may partly result from associating members of low status groups with unfair circumstances. Because automatic associations predict prejudiced behaviors, the burden of proof is on those wishing to argue that egalitarian negative associations complicate the assessment of automatic attitudes rather than contribute to prejudiced responses. Discussion focuses on the implications of egalitarian negative associations for the theory and measurement of automatic prejudice.