Facing Prejudice: Implicit Prejudice and the Perception of Facial Threat

Kurt Hugenberg*, Galen V. Bodenhausen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

312 Scopus citations


We propose that social attitudes, and in particular implicit prejudice, bias people's perceptions of the facial emotion displayed by others. To test this hypothesis, we employed a facial emotion change-detection task in which European American participants detected the offset (Study 1) or onset (Study 2) of facial anger in both Black and White targets. Higher implicit (but not explicit) prejudice was associated with a greater readiness to perceive anger in Black faces, but neither explicit nor implicit prejudice predicted anger perceptions regarding similar White faces. This pattern indicates that European Americans high in implicit racial prejudice are biased to perceive threatening affect in Black but not White faces, suggesting that the deleterious effects of stereotypes may take hold extremely early in social interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-643
Number of pages4
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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