Knowledge About Individuals’ Interracial Friendships Is Systematically Associated With Mental Representations of Race, Traits, and Group Solidarity

Jonas R. Kunst*, Ivuoma N. Onyeador, John F. Dovidio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Individuals with other-race friends are perceived to identify less strongly with their racial in-group than are individuals with same-race friends. Using the reverse-correlation technique, we show that this effect goes beyond perceptions of social identification, influencing how people are mentally represented. In four studies with Black and White American participants, we demonstrate a “racial assimilation effect”: Participants, independent of their own race, represented both Black and White targets with other-race friends as phenotypically more similar to the respective racial out-group. Representations of targets with racial out-group friends were subsequently rated as more likely to engage in social action supportive of the racial out-group. Out-group targets with other-race friends were represented more favorably than out-group targets with mostly same-race friends. White participants had particularly negative representations of in-group members with mostly Black friends. The present research suggests that individuals’ social networks influence how their race and associated traits are mentally represented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • extended contact
  • interracial contact
  • mental representation
  • racial perception
  • social categorization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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