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Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Whitewashing Effect: Using Racial Contact to Signal Trustworthiness and Competence

Stephen T. La Macchia, Winnifred R. Louis, Matthew J. Hornsey, M. Thai, & F. K. Barlow
Pers Soc Psychol Bull January 2016 42: 118-129


The present research examines whether people use racial contact to signal positive and negative social attributes. In two experiments, participants were instructed to fake good (trustworthy/competent) or fake bad (untrustworthy/incompetent) when reporting their amount of contact with a range of different racial groups. In Experiment 1 (N = 364), participants faking good reported significantly more contact with White Americans than with non-White Americans, whereas participants faking bad did not. In Experiment 2 (N = 1,056), this pattern was replicated and was found to be particularly pronounced among those with stronger pro-White bias. These findings suggest that individuals may use racial contact as a social signal, effectively “whitewashing” their apparent contact and friendships when trying to present positively.

The entire article is here.