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

1 Scopus citations

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)
Pages (from-to)718-734
Number of pages17
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume48
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022

Keywords

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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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