Cognitive costs of contemporary prejudice

Mary C. Murphy, Jennifer A. Richeson, J. Nicole Shelton, Michelle L. Rheinschmidt, Hilary B. Bergsieker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Two studies examined the cognitive costs of blatant and subtle racial bias during interracial interactions. In Study 1, Black participants engaged in a 10-minute, face-to-face interaction with a White confederate who expressed attitudes and behaviors consistent with blatant, subtle, or no racial bias. Consistent with contemporary theories of modern racism, interacting with a subtly biased, compared with a blatantly biased, White partner impaired the cognitive functioning of Blacks. Study 2 revealed that Latino participants suffered similar cognitive impairments when exposed to a White partner who displayed subtle, compared with blatant, racial bias. The theoretical and practical implications for understanding the dynamics of interracial interactions in the context of contemporary bias are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-571
Number of pages12
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • attributional ambiguity
  • cognitive depletion
  • executive function
  • interracial interactions
  • prejudice
  • racial and ethnic relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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