“Yuck, You Disgust Me!” Affective Bias Against Interracial Couples

Allison L. Skinnera and Caitlin M. Hudac, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, January 2017

Interracial Couple Weds

Credit Image: Robin Rayne Nelson/ZUMAPRESS.com

Abstract

The current research expands upon the sparse existing literature on the nature of bias against interracial couples. Study 1 demonstrates that bias against interracial romance is correlated with disgust. Study 2 provides evidence that images of interracial couples evoke a neural disgust response among observers – as indicated by increased insula activation relative to images of same-race couples. Consistent with psychological theory indicating that disgust leads to dehumanization, Study 3 demonstrates that manipulating disgust leads to implicit dehumanization of interracial couples. Overall, the current findings provide evidence that interracial couples elicit disgust and are dehumanized relative to same-race couples. These findings are particularly concerning, given evidence of antisocial reactions (e.g., aggression, perpetration of violence) to dehumanized targets. Findings also highlight the role of meaningful social units (e.g., couples) in person perception, an important consideration for psychologists conducting social cognition research.

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