Concerns About Appearing Prejudiced Get Under the Skin: Stress Responses to Interracial Contact in the Moment and Across Time

Sophie Trawalter et al., Science Direct, December 13, 2011

Abstract

Many White Americans are concerned about appearing prejudiced. How these concerns affect responses during actual interracial interactions, however, remains understudied. The present work examines stress responses to interracial contact–both in the moment, during interracial interactions (Study 1), and over time as individuals have repeated interracial contact (Study 2). Results of Study 1 revealed that concerns about appearing prejudiced were associated with heightened stress responses during interracial encounters (Study 1). White participants concerned about appearing prejudiced exhibited significant increases in cortisol “stress hormone” levels as well as increases in anxious behavior during interracial but not same-race contact. Participants relatively unconcerned about appearing prejudiced did not exhibit these stress responses. Study 2 examined stress responses to interracial contact over an entire academic year. Results revealed that White participants exhibited shifts in cortisol diurnal rhythms on days after interracial contact. Moreover, participants’ cortisol rhythms across the academic year, from fall to spring, were related to their concerns about appearing prejudiced and their interracial contact experiences. Taken together, these data offer the first evidence that chronic concerns about appearing prejudiced are related to short- and longer-term stress responses to interracial contact. Implications for life in diverse spaces are discussed.

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  • underdog

    Well as long as these researchers had their study machinery in place and running, why didn’t they conduct parallel studies on minority races? There doesn’t seem to be any mention of minority races being studied in this article.

  • Former Seattle Resident

    “White guilt” is bad for your health.

  • Anonymous

    Whites are concerned about appearing prejudice because there are many ramifications for people think we are racist. Blacks and other minorities aren’t concerned about being called racist because they don’t think they can be and they won’t be punished for being racist. That’s why.

  • Anonymous

    See, you are healthier when you don’t give a darn.

  • Cary

    It is too bad that we descendants of 3,000 years of cultural development allow ourselves to be bullied by persons of color with name-calling. The fact is that the diverse white cultures are entirely capable of moving us forward. That our goals, values, and traditions are not those of people of color should not be our problem…they have their own values and goals.

    One way to look at being called “racist” is to understand that it is mere name-calling, not a studied analysis that we need to bow to. In fact, calling us “racist” is not different from calling us “goyim” — both words are mere labels hurled at us by bullies who claim to operate from a position of supremacy based on their claim of authority to name, label, define, and describe us.

    “Racist” is just a nasty bit of name-calling. Nothing to be worried about, just call them “supremacist” and “bully” back and move on.

  • sbuffalonative

    Segregation means no real threats, perceived threats, or self-judgments concerning real or perceived threats.

    Segregation would solve many problems.

  • Madison Grant

    In other words the study shows that being a race realist is far less stressful and therefore healthier than being a p.c. liberal.

    It also shows that white liberals suffer more stress “during interracial interactions” than when in a homogenous, all-white setting. But I thought diversity was a blessing?

  • GM (Australia)

    Not really certain what this report is trying to say. Is the report suggesting that racism, predudice or even xenophobia are quite normal reactions caused by cortoid reactions in the brain when we first have to react with some person of another race? Is the report trying to imply that racial predudice may even be a treatable condition?

    Case Study 1: A day or so ago I had to share a very slow moving elevator with an African woman. I am not sure who felt most uncomfortable, her or me. Who will need to be treated for this stress disorder to stop this situation happening again, her or me?

    Case Study 2 upwards… Neither my wife nor myself EVER feel comfortable if we are forced to endure eg. a 3rd world health professional or minister of religion. You just can not relate to these people especially when you may want to discuss very personal issues. I would suggest that this is normal behaviour, except we are both honest about it. I have noticed also that most forced inter racial social contacts usually degenerate to an embarassed silence as soon as the small talk is over.Again, quite normal human behaviour and that we are not missing out on diurnal cortisol rhythms!

    I wonder what the diversity thought police will make of this report, cortison imbalance immunisation shots for all (white) babies?

  • Anonymous

    From the Abstract:

    “Many White Americans are concerned about appearing prejudiced.”

    “Participants relatively unconcerned about appearing prejudiced did not exhibit these stress responses.”

    *******

    On Dec. 17, 2011 on another Amren thread I posted about the Left’s project to Elect A New People, the non-enforcement of our immigration laws – in fact the sabotage of them – and the social control of expression for restricted legal immigration (in part)

    http://goo.gl/QswfC

    “All of this is so blatantly and brazenly done yet without much concern about public outrage (much less impeachment) because the decades of multicultural indoctrination have succeeded so well and the organs of public discourse and opinion propagation are so thoroughly dominated by the Left.

    As many have noted, without the internet hardly a peep of indignation would reach anyone beyond the reach of your own voice under your own roof.

    Even the supposedly conservative party and media barely mention the treason in anything like the blunt terms that it deserves. By this I mean objecting to the radical demographic change that is brought about by legal immigration and objecting to the multicultural dogma itself.

    Nevertheless I do believe that more and more ordinary people are becoming apostates from multicultural dogma. The task is to get their voices into the broader public arena, for each of us to help empower others by conveying to them the legitimacy, necessity, and urgency of speaking the truth about the threat to our nation and casting off fear of disapproval.

    Many, many people are thinking as we do. We need to create a climate in which they can ‘come out of the closet’.

    Put simply – be outspoken for our issue and see how many others will begin to speak out.”

    *************************

    I have just come across an excellent essay at Gates of Vienna related to those sentiments; much more learned and detailed than my brief offering but I think complimentary to my thesis. It explains why when we know that many people believe as we do about demographic matters so few speak out. The essay is in the context of the Islamization issue in particular but obviously applies to PC/MC in its full scope. I am taking the liberty of presenting in its entirety. I hope that is acceptable.

    http://goo.gl/yGHbs

    PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

    by Nicolai Sennels

    The disadvantages of Islam and Muslim immigration into Europe are many and obvious.

    Negative economic effects, rising crime and less security, entire neighborhoods transformed into parallel societies, the frequently negative influence of Muslim children in schools and institutions, etc. — all these consequences affect the lives of most children and adults on an everyday level in one way or another.

    Many of us have wondered why there still are so many — both ordinary people, Media and politicians — who do not speak openly about, and perhaps do not even realize, the problems.

    Being a licensed psychologist and having had years of experience as a publicly known critic of Islam and Muslim immigration and culture, I will endeavor here to give three psychological explanations for political correctness.

    As always, when large groups ignore obvious problems, the issue is one of social psychology:

    The “Bystander effect”

    The bystander effect is a psychological phenomenon that explains why people remain passive during emergencies.

    Research on the bystander effect started in connection with the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964, when several neighbors remained passive while they watched Genovese being stabbed to death.

    An example of psychological research in the bystander effect is a study in which a woman pretends she faints. If the subject is alone, he will help the woman in 70 percent of cases. If there are several people present, only 40 percent of subjects help the woman.

    The bystander effect makes spectators to a disaster tend to watch others’ reaction — instead of the situation itself — as a way to assess the seriousness of a situation.

    As people in many cases await each other’s reaction, rather than take the initiative, the result may be that nobody does anything — since all are waiting to see if somebody else does something.

    If the others do nothing, it is seen as a sign for the individual that the others believe that there is no need for intervention. This affects one’s own judgment, and thus one’s reaction. The majority’s response acts as a kind of “barometer” for the truth.

    If we transfer this phenomenon to political correctness, it means that since the majority do not express criticism of Islam, Sharia (also called Islamization) and Muslim immigration, people take it as a “proof” that there is no need to criticize such things.

    Conditions for the bystander effect are therefore particularly ripe in cases where people feel uncertain about what is the right thing to do, and as a result use other people’s reaction as a way to assess the situation.

    The best way to counter this kind of behavior is to give people so much information that they are able to make their own decisions. In addition, it is obviously important that as many as possible do something, so that people who are under influence by the bystander effect acknowledge reality. It is psychologically important that the people who take the initiative do it in such a way that others will find it easy to identify with it — so avoid anger and unnecessary provocation, show your joy and personal optimism, be relaxed, and only talk about these things when there is a natural reason for it (e.g.

    family or colleagues mention the subject themselves).

    “Pluralistic ignorance”

    The bystander effect is often connected with pluralistic ignorance. Pluralistic ignorance is a social psychological phenomenon in which the majority of a group individually reject a norm (e.g. Muslim immigration), but at the same time suppose that the majority accepts the norm. As a result of the desire to be well-regarded by the majority, people accept the norm, even though they secretly oppose it. In this way a democratic process can lead to the acceptance of norms which the majority actually oppose.

    Applying the theory of pluralistic ignorance to the phenomenon of political correctness would mean that the majority actually want less Islam, Sharia and Muslim immigration, but every individual believes that the majority is not against these things. Because people do not dare to stand up against the “illusory majority”, they refuse to openly criticize these things.

    Fear of criticism can therefore pressure the majority not to speak their minds — even though they would actually able to get what they want, if only all dared to raise their hands say what they think.

    Pluralistic ignorance is thus made possible partly by the lack of self confidence to stand by one’s position, and partly by a miscalculation of what the majority thinks.

    The best way to deal with pluralistic ignorance is therefore to give people courage and show that they are not alone with their viewpoint. This is accomplished primarily by showing a courageous example oneself. In addition, it is important to support other critics, so they do not feel vulnerable and alone. Finally, it is vital to spread knowledge and arguments that help people to counter criticism.

    “Good people”

    The third explanation consists of a theory of my own. It is based on the assumption that in all cultures and societies there exists a definition of what “a good person” is.

    Out of a desire to feel liked and part of the community, most people have a psychological drive to live up to the definition of “a good person”. But the definition of “good people” is influenced by many things, and is subject to change.

    In the old Danish Christian community, you were a good person if you went to church every Sunday. In societies with a strong work ethic, it is seen as better to care for oneself than live on benefits. In many circles it is seen today as “good” to worry about the climate or ecology — or at least it is bad if you do not care. When I was a child in the 1970’s, it was hip and Leftist to fight for women’s freedom, criticize the social control imposed by religion and society, and fight for the right to criticize authority and religion.

    Nowadays it is a widespread view that “tolerance and openness” characterize “good persons”. This includes a provision that criticism of minorities and others’ standards is “bad”.

    Thus we have ended up in a situation where criticism of Muslim immigration and Islamic religious and cultural standards has become socially unacceptable.

    Since only a small minority therefore criticize these things openly, the bystander effect makes many people think that there is no problem — or that it is not so big that it is necessary to speak about it.

    The harsh criticism faced by Islam-critics (especially among Muslims themselves) increases the extent of pluralistic ignorance, because fewer people dare to speak up. Even though majority are critical of Islam, they believe that they are a minority.

    People with good self-esteem are better able to maintain their own assessment of their own moral “goodness” without being influenced by others’ criticism or current definitions of “good people”. Thus they are less vulnerable to the bystander effect and pluralistic ignorance.

    Who is neurotic?

    Critics of Islam, Sharia and Muslim immigration are often called racists (expressing hostility against other races), xenophobic (having an irrational fear of the unknown) or Islamophobes (having an irrational fear of Islam).

    But Islam and Muslims are not a race, and neither Islam nor Muslims are unknown, since most of us encounter or read about the phenomenon in one form or another almost daily. And there’s really nothing irrational in fearing Islam, as Islam’s holy scriptures say that Muslims have a duty to suppress or kill all non-Muslims and to spread their faith by any means.

    Which Islam and many Muslims also do, kindly aided by all the people, politicians and media who do not speak against Islam, sharia and Muslim immigration.

    By calling people racists or diagnosing them, political correct lovers of multi-culture attempt to define Islam-critics as dysfunctional people or neurotics. But we are not.

    Proponents of Islam, Sharia and Muslim immigration, however, are actually victims of the bystander effect and pluralistic ignorance. And, being insecure, many of them follow the current trends and their peers’ views on what defines “good people”.

    There is no reason to fear such intellectually flabby people. So just open your mouth and say what you think. You are not crazy, evil or neurotic. Quite the contrary.

    Based on the above-mentioned social psychological theories, it is my conclusion that that we Islam-critics are better informed and have better self-confidence than the many who lack knowledge, courage, and personal authenticity to speak about obvious problems.

  • Fritz

    As my workplace went from about 3% Black to about 90% Black over the course of 35 years, what stressed me most were Whites who pretended they didn’t see what was right in front of them. I was the union president towards the end, when the top manager, a radical White-hating Black took over. His mistreatment of White and Middleastern managers was so blatent, I found myself giving those victimized managers advice on how to file EEO complaints against this guy. Of course, none of them took my advice and within about a year this guy drove every non-Black manager out of the place and replaced every one of them with Blacks, all of them of the same mind as himself. Personally, I’ve never stressed myself by pretending to think or feel about race any other way than I really feel. It has lost me some White friends, but at the same time I know it has earned me a certain amount of respect from a few Blacks who may not have agreed with me, but knew I was “real”.

  • Anonymous

    DEAR WHITE PEOPLE,

    WAKE THE $#@& UP!

    First of all prejudice is defined as ” a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience”.

    There is neither a lack of “reasons” nor of “actual experience” in the case of Blacks.

    Due to the internet and the few honest news media we can certainly claim vicarious experience that comes from the experiences of other Whites who are being victimized in ever increasing numbers in this God forsaken country.

    Every day we’re bombarded by the incessant reports of people being murdered, raped, raped & murdered and otherwise atrociously assaulted by these creatures. Therefore there is nothing immoral or reprehensible about wishing to avoid these entities entirely. Sensible people don’t go picking wild mushrooms if they are unschooled in recognizing which species are deadly nor do we randomly pick up snakes. Thus it is when interacting with Blacks. The odds are NOT in the White person’s favor.

    A 60ish Delaware White woman,while walking her dog, was killed by a Black veteran who while driving his Hummer, decided that he wanted to kill someone. He hit the woman with his vehicle then exited the Hummer and repeatedly banged her head against a railing. He stripped off her clothing then threw her body into the vehicle and dumped her like so much trash somewhere in Wilmington. Why did he strip off her clothing? In addition to being an Afro-Psycho was he also a Necrophile or was it just another way of degrading her post mortem?

    His father (See? He had a real father who raised him but it didn’t matter. ) described his sadness for his son and the family of the victim.

    Now they’re going to use the old Post Traumatic Distress Disorder defense or maybe the legacy of slavery . And guess what? He’ll probably get off and spend some time in a mental facility on our dime. If he wanted to kill someone why did he specifically choose a White woman? Plenty of Blacks around the Wilmington area.

    So in closing, forgive yourselves and embrace your “prejudice”. Wish no one ill ( that also is difficult given our experience) but exercise your God given right to avoid. Forget “trust but verify” because with Afros, the verification could be fatal.

    Sincerely

    The Voice of Reason.

    PS

    Acquire a firearm and become thoroughly trained in its responsible use. Make sure that each family member also receives training. Take your spouse, sons and daughters to the pistol range. It’s a fun family

    activity; a lot better than sitting in front of the TV.

    A great investment in these times is NOT gold. It’s ammo.

  • Dario

    I used to think that way.

    And now I don’t care.

    I’m proud of my ancestors’ accomplishments.

  • paul rim

    I used to feel guilty for feeling uneasy around black people, but then I went to live amongst them. I quickly concluded they were not the victims, but the villains. They’ve never earned any goodwill & don’t deserve any. Their underlying abusive & hostile attitudes based on pseudo history deserve only contempt. I did meet some decent black Christians though & some of the old school still appreciate the blessings whites have provided.

  • Anonymous

    Micro technology makes possible many video bombshell documentaries

    of huge huge potential in propagating the biological facts of life.

    Almost half a century ago, as an offshoot of the old very popular,

    “Candid Camera” a full CC-like documentary film was made regarding

    Sexual-social behavior. This could be done today re RACE but

    you’d have to get the raw footage taken outside the USA to (where?

    Ukraine? Iceland? …) for editing and production. The clouds of

    repression and thought distortion are so pervasive around us that what’s happening has to be shown us to be appreciated.

  • White E

    It probably isn’t the fear of racism that is causing these responses. They stuck some lilly white liberal in a room with a random black guy and he got a little nervous. Probably not because he was worried if the black guy thought he was racist. It was likely more along the lines of him being cautious around a hostile and impulsive black. Which of us would not have a similar reaction? You can’t turn off fight or flight, and sometimes your gut just knows things that your mind does not. Perfectly natural reaction to being around blacks, in my opinion. It does tend to make one nervous or at least more cautious.

  • margaret

    People sometimes tell me I am prejudiced against blacks, illegal hispanics and asian and pacific islander health care professionals working with false credentials.

    I just reply, “I’m not prejudiced, I’m postjudiced. If you don’t know what post means, look it up.” I’ll say it loud, I’m postjudiced and I’m proud.

  • EW

    Aaaahhh…that is Ms Richeson at work again. Amren already wrote several times about her industrious search for what’s going on in in the heads of whites.

    She has obviously only one target – to get inside the brain of whites and trace the hidden racism and its manifestations by any means.

    Incidentally, already her first results in this field have shown that especially the “non-racist” whites were more unbalanced after having a talk with a black.

    She repeats herself.

    http://goo.gl/vF2yJ

  • Anonymous

    Just one more reason wht peoplr prefer their own kind. When there are no ethnics around you don’t have to worry about how your actions are perceived as “racist” or not.

  • Anonymous

    It’s time for whites to learn something from other (and from what used to be their own) cultures – tribalism! In other words, every action we take should be weighed by what is best for OUR OWN culture, not every other culture in the world!

  • Auntie Em

    I remember the days when I used to feel tense around black people because I was afraid I might do or say something which would cause offense.

    Then I lived in an inner-city environment for a long three months. Based on that experience I am now more than a little tense around black people because I expect to be assaulted, robbed or stolen from – all three of which I experienced in ninety-some days.

  • Anonymous

    Lots of “heartwarming” stories on local Chicago news the past few days. The “poor” lining up to get free toys and food for Christmas. Most of them were black, overweight and were wearing leather coats. I can’t afford a leather coat. Maybe I should get in that line too….

    In summer we get grossly obese black and hispanic kids and mothers lining up in the park for free bag lunches in case the food stamps, WIC coupons and free food pantries don’t provide enough food till school starts.

    Those summer lunch kids and especiall their 300 pound mothers bulging out of tank tops and shorts look like they would benefit from a 1,000 calorie a day diet during the summer

  • Alan

    There was a program on the discovery channel where they observed White people as they viewed or saw Black people either on screen or walking by.

    It was not uncommon for Whites to have more relaxed behavior, respond favorably or even smiled when they saw pictures of light skinned Black people. On the contrary, a number of Whites tensed up, reacted negatively or even frowned when they saw pictures of dark or very dark skinned Black people.

    Smaller sized Black men and women also generated less negative behavior than larger Black men and women. A similar study was conducted at Harvard in 2009.

  • Luke

    This article reminds me of an old former military buddy of mine, a White guy – who after 4 failed marriages, finally latched onto an Asian woman. I’ve known this guy for 30 plus years, and when I first met him – he was married to his first wife, a beautiful white woman who bore him two sons. In those days, we could discuss racial topics and he and I were pretty much in sync, since we were both Southerners and certified race realists.

    Fast forward 25 or so years later, he now has a non-white wife and every time I bring up the negative racial aspects to massive third world immigration and open borders – he sounds as if he has had a Dr. Frankenstein brain transplant, and he parrots a good portion of the Cultural Marxist lie about race being a social construct. Its hard to believe this is the same guy I once knew.

    The last time we were together, he made some whiny sounding comment about what our evil white ancestors did to those poor, stalwart, perfectly innocent and peaceful Indians – and I just about came unglued. I flatly told him that I was sick of hearing that nauseating self-hate and white guilt baloney, and if it was his opinion that our White ancestors should not have responded with deadly force to savage attacks on their communities, wives and children by murderous tribes of Indians who would rape our women and daughters and who would butcher, torture and mutilate little white children – then he could keep those mentally sick opinions to himself.

    I see where many Americans no longer like to read, but if anyone in the AR community would like to read a very good book that describes life on the frontier in those years – read a book by Tom Goodrich called ‘Scalp Dance’. I promise you, that if you read that book, you will absolve yourself completely of any Hollywood or TV induced ‘white guilt brainwashing’ about what our ancestors did to solve the Indian problem. In fact, you might even find yourself feeling gratitude for the sacrifices and ferocious courage of our White frontiersmen for their bravery and determination to make the frontier safe for their familes.

  • Edward

    Alan wrote:

    There was a program on the discovery channel where they observed White people as they viewed or saw Black people either on screen or walking by.

    It was not uncommon for Whites to have more relaxed behavior, respond favorably or even smiled when they saw pictures of light skinned Black people. On the contrary, a number of Whites tensed up, reacted negatively or even frowned when they saw pictures of dark or very dark skinned Black people.

    Smaller sized Black men and women also generated less negative behavior than larger Black men and women. A similar study was conducted at Harvard in 2009.

    So in essence, based on this program and the Harvard study, if you are a small to medium sized brown to light skinned Black person you were more likely to be better received by Whites. If you were a large, heavy or dark skinned Black person, you were more likely to harbor negative or even hostile responses from Whites.

    This does not really surprise me.

  • Walter

    Alan:

    These findings do not surprise me at all. I am White and in my late 40s. I have seen many fellow White respond the way that you stated the respondents reacted.

    When I was in college, I remember my freshman year in college. My floor of 35 guys had 3 Black guys. Two of the guys were larger and dark skinned. The other guy was medium height and brown to lighter skinned, although closer to lighter skinned. Physically, he was one of the smaller guys on the floor, not abnormally small, but he was probably about 5’6 and 145-150 lbs whereas most of the guys, including me, were closer to 5’10 190- 200 lbs. A number of guys were 6’0 or taller, including the two Black guys. .

    I noticed how many of the guys would always talk with the smaller, lighter skinned Black guy, occasionally hang out in his room, go to lunch, dinner etc… with him. In fact, I believe that three of four guys actually became pretty good friends with him. I will admit that he did have a degree of refinement about him that made him stand out.I remember him once stating that he came from a long line of professional Black people. I beleive his father was a state commissioner of secondary education in a Midwestern state and his mother was an journalist.

    In the case of the two other bigger Black guys, a number of the guys would say hello to them, but that is as far as it went. In fact, some would barely acknowledge them.

    I noticed this trend in my career as well. The fellow White men that do have Black friends, the guys seem to be light skinned and certainly no darker than brown skinned. The guys tend to be the same size, or often smaller than they (the White guy) is.

    Perhaps this is psychological. I don’t know, but I can attest to experinceing such berhavior in my life as well.

  • white dude

    23 — Luke wrote at 2:20 PM on December 22:

    What is it with white guys these days? They don’t even like they’re own women? I will for one defend our women since a lot of trolls these days will bash our very own women for our problems.

  • Gary

    Walter wrote:

    I noticed this trend in my career as well. The fellow White men that do have Black friends, the guys seem to be light skinned and certainly no darker than brown skinned. The guys tend to be the same size, or often smaller than they (the White guy) is.

    Perhaps this is psychological. I don’t know, but I can attest to experiencing such behavior in my life as well.

    Many men tend to have big egos. Therefore they may tend to seek out men who are not as physically large and robust in an effort to feel good about themselves. In regards to White men seeking out certain type of Black men as friends, if given the choice would you choose:

    A. A 300 lbs, loudmouthed, menacing looking, extremely dark skinned, potentially violent, unkept bear of a Black man?

    or

    B. A 175-195, maybe slightly, though not much heavier, well groomed, lighter skinned, sophisticated, attractive, Black man?

    Duh?! I do not think you have to be a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

  • Anonymous

    That’s right #4, I don’t get stressed because I don’t give a damn about what a non-White thinks. I also don’t give a damn about what White Liberal idiots think, either.

    When these “people” don’t matter to you, you’ll see things differently.