Effects of situational power on automatic racial prejudice

Jennifer A. Richeson*, Nalini Ambady

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


This study examined the influence of situational power on automatic racial prejudice. White females anticipated participating in either an interracial or same-race interaction in one of two roles: superior or subordinate. Their racial attitudes were measured via the Implicit Association Test (Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998). Results revealed that both the racial composition of the anticipated dyad and participants' situational roles influenced automatic racial attitudes. Specifically, whites assigned to the high-power role of a superior of a black individual revealed more racial bias than whites assigned to the lower-power role of a subordinate. By contrast, situational power had no influence on the automatic bias of whites anticipating same-race interactions. These results reveal the manner in which situational power hierarchies serve to reinforce existing social stratification. Implications for diversity efforts and attitude change are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-183
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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