The Effect of Economic Scarcity Priming on Perception of Race

Abstract

Existing research suggests that White individuals are more likely to categorise biracial faces as Black in conditions of resource scarcity. It has been theorised that this effect is due to in-group boundaries becoming more exclusive in scarce conditions. An alternative explanation refers to implicit socio-economic association between Black individuals and lower level of resources. These two approaches entail different predictions for Black participants performing the categorisation task. If scarcity prompts greater in-group exclusivity, Black participants should, ceteris paribus, categorise more biracial faces as White. If, however, scarcity invokes socio-economic status associations, Black participants should categories biracial faces in the same way as White participants. Experiment 1, explored the effects of priming on White and Black groups. It provided support for the implicit socio-economic association theory. Furthermore, experiment 2 on Asian sample, provided additional support as Asian participants showed the same pattern of response. The paper discusses implications of these findings.


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