Exerting Control over Prejudiced Responses

  • Monteith, Margo (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


The fact that stereotypes prejudice operate automatically or implicitly (unconsciously) adverse and often has consequences for people who must continually endure discriminatory outcomes, and also for people who feel guilty about their unintended biases. The PI previously advanced a model of self-regulation to explain how control over automatically activated prejudices might be achieved. The model posits that the neurophysiological behavioral inhibition system (BIS) mediates the processes involved in bringing behavior that results from automatically activated biases under control. Theoretically, this system enables the development and operation of cues for control, which are stimuli that have come to be associated with prejudiced responses and the negative consequences of those responses (e.g., feelings of guilt). Through the development and operation of cues for control, implicit biases and their consequences can be changed. Although supported in experiments that maximized conditions for successful self-regulation, the model has not been tested in more realistic contexts nor has it addressed actual strategies for replacing prejudiced responses. The current program of research extends the application and theoretical breadth of the self-regulation model. Aim 1 is to examine experimentally the power of cues for control to command attention and facilitate non-prejudiced responding (1) when people have access to limited processing resources; (2) across time; and (3) after an experience that affirms one's non-prejudiced self-image. Thus these experiments test the power of cues to encourage non-prejudiced responding under situations that challenge the potential operation of cues. Aim 2 is to examine the operation of "real world" cues by obtaining a rich source of experiential data using an interview methodology to answer questions about the self-regulation of prejudiced responses in people's everyday lives. The operation of "real world" cues will also be examined experimentally by presenting individuals' idiosyncratic cues (as determined in the interview study) in a priming task to determine whether they do, indeed, facilitate control over prejudice. Aim 3 is to theoretically extend the self-regulation model by drawing on the de-biasing and correction literatures to provide an account of replacement strategies and to explain how the use of different strategies will depend on a likely moderator (capacity for reflection). Relevant experiments will test this theoretical extension.
Effective start/end date1/1/976/30/06


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