Regulatory focus and executive function after interracial interactions

Sophie Trawalter, Jennifer A. Richeson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


Recent research finds that interracial interactions can negatively impact executive function. The present study examined whether regulatory focus may moderate this effect. Specifically, prior to an interracial interaction, 45 White female students were told either to try to have a positive interracial exchange (promotion focus), avoid prejudice (prevention focus), or given no instruction (control). After the interaction, participants completed the Stroop color-naming task, which assessed executive attentional task performance. Results revealed that participants in the prevention and the no instruction, control conditions performed worse on the Stroop than participants in the promotion condition. The findings suggest that promoting positive contact through active engagement rather than prejudice avoidance attenuates the previously documented negative effects of interracial contact on cognitive functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)406-412
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Ego-depletion
  • Executive function
  • Interracial contact
  • Interracial interactions
  • Regulatory focus
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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