Perspective taking combats automatic expressions of racial bias

Andrew R. Todd*, Galen V. Bodenhausen, Jennifer A. Richeson, Adam D. Galinsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations

Abstract

Five experiments investigated the hypothesis that perspective taking-actively contemplating others' psychological experiences-attenuates automatic expressions of racial bias. Across the first 3 experiments, participants who adopted the perspective of a Black target in an initial context subsequently exhibited more positive automatic interracial evaluations, with changes in automatic evaluations mediating the effect of perspective taking on more deliberate interracial evaluations. Furthermore, unlike other bias-reduction strategies, the interracial positivity resulting from perspective taking was accompanied by increased salience of racial inequalities (Experiment 3). Perspective taking also produced stronger approach-oriented action tendencies toward Blacks (but not Whites; Experiment 4). A final experiment revealed that face-to-face interactions with perspective takers were rated more positively by Black interaction partners than were interactions with nonperspective takers-a relationship that was mediated by perspective takers' increased approach-oriented nonverbal behaviors (as rated by objective, third-party observers). These findings indicate that perspective taking can combat automatic expressions of racial biases without simultaneously decreasing sensitivity to ongoing racial disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1027-1042
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume100
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2011

Keywords

  • Automatic processes
  • Intergroup bias
  • Perspective taking
  • Prejudice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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