Symposium S-H09: Understanding the Dynamics of Beliefs in Genetic and Racial Essences

Posted in Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Live Events, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Social Science, United States on 2015-02-26 20:34Z by Steven

Symposium S-H09: Understanding the Dynamics of Beliefs in Genetic and Racial Essences

The Society for Personality and Social Psychology
16th Annual Convention
Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center
Long Beach, California
2015-02-26 through 2015-02-28

Saturday, 2015-02-28, 15:30-16:45 PST (Local Time)
Room 202ABC

Franki Kung
University of Waterloo


Melody Chao
Hong Kong University of Science & Technology

The symposium presents research that transcends the static, and often negative, conceptualization of essentialism. Four papers present a dynamic view of essentialist beliefs and show that beliefs in genetic or racial essences could lead to both positive and negative social psychological outcomes in interpersonal, intergroup and clinical contexts.

The Implications of Cultural Essentialism on Interpersonal Conflicts in Inter- vs. Intracultural Contexts

Franki Yk Hei Kung
University of Waterloo

Melody M. Chao
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Donna Yao
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Ho-ying Fu
City University of Hong Kong

Although psychological essentialism has been shown to influence a wide range of psychological processes in intergroup contexts, little is known about its impact on managing interpersonal conflicts in intracultural and intercultural settings. The current research aims to address this question. Findings across three studies (N=387) revealed that individuals who endorse essentialist beliefs less were more likely to trust their interaction partner in intercultural than intracultural conflict situations. This increased trusting relationship, in turn, could lead to more integration of ideas and both better individual and joint outcomes in face-to-face dyadic intercultural negotiations. The current study unveils when and how essentialist beliefs influence individuals’ ability to function effectively in intercultural and intercultural contexts. Implications of the findings in advancing our understanding of intercultural competence will be discussed.

To be Essentialist or Not: The Positive and Negative Ramifications of Race Essentialism for Multiracial Individuals

Kristin Pauker
University of Hawaii

Chanel Meyers
University of Hawaii

Jon Freeman
New York University

Research documents the many negative implications of race essentialism for intergroup relations, ranging from increased stereotyping to less motivation to cross racial boundaries. This research has primarily examined such negative implications from the perspective of White perceivers. Two studies (N=138) explored positive and negative ramifications of adopting essentialist beliefs about race for racial minorities, specifically multiracial individuals. We hypothesized that adopting less essentialist beliefs may aid multiracial individuals in flexibly adopting the framework of multiple identities with positive consequences for their face memory, but may result in negative consequences for their racial identity. Results indicated that multiracial individuals with less essentialist views could readily adopt the lens of primed monoracial identities and exhibited preferential memory for identity-prime relevant faces. However, when it came to their own racial identification, more essentialist views appeared to be beneficial—as it was associated with higher identity integration and greater pride in a multiracial identity.

Folk Beliefs about Genetic Variation Predict Avoidance of Biracial Individuals

Jason E. Plaks
University of Toronto

Sonia K. Kang
University of Toronto

Alison L. Chasteen
University of Toronto

Jessica D. Remedios
Tufts University

Laypeople’s estimates of the amount of genetic overlap between vs. within racial groups vary widely. While some believe that different races are genetically similar, others believe that different races share little genetic material. These studies examine how beliefs about genetic overlap affect neural and behavioral reactions to racially-ambiguous and biracial targets. In Study 1, we found that the low overlap perspective predicts a stronger neural avoidance response to biracial compared to Black or White targets. In Study 2, we manipulated genetic overlap beliefs and found that participants in the low overlap condition explicitly rated biracial targets more negatively than Black targets. In Study 3, this difference extended to distancing behavior: Low overlap perceivers sat further away when expecting to meet a biracial person than when expecting to meet a Black person. These data suggest that a priori assumptions about human genetic variation guide perceivers’ reactions to racially-ambiguous individuals.

Genetic Attributions Underlie People’s Attitudes Towards Criminal Responsibility and Eugenics

Steven J. Heine
Department of Psychology
University of British Columbia

Benjamin Y. Cheung
Department of Psychology
University of British Columbia

People are essentialist thinkers – they are attracted to the idea that hidden essences make things as they are. When most people encounter genetic concepts they think of these as essences, and they then think about related phenomena as immutable, determined, homogenous and discrete, and natural. I will discuss experimental research that demonstrates how encounters with information about genetic causes leads people to view two highly politicized topics in quite different terms. Specifically, in contrast to those who were exposed to arguments about experiential causes, people who encountered genetic attributions of violent behavior were more open to defenses appealing to mitigated criminal responsibility, and genetic attributions of intelligence lead people to be more supportive of eugenic policies.

For more information click here and go to page 125.

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The One Drop Rule: How Black Is “Black?”

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-04-08 15:47Z by Steven

The One Drop Rule: How Black Is “Black?”

Psychology Today
Blogs: In the Eye of the Beholder: The science of social perception

Jason Plaks, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology
University of Toronto

The perception of race is subjective.

Many biracial people publicly identify themselves with only one race (for example, either black or white, but not both). President Obama raised eyebrows when he checked only one box on his 2010 Census form: “Black, African American, or Negro.” Halle Berry (who is biracial), in discussing her one-quarter black daughter, Nahla, has stated, “I feel she’s black. I’m black and I’m her mother, and I believe in the one-drop theory.” When pressed on why Nahla, who is 75 percent white, should be considered black, she conceded that Nahla may ultimately have some choice in the matter, but added, “I think, largely, that will be based on how the world identifies her.” In other words, according to Berry, regardless of how she may choose to self-identify, as long as she has “one drop” of black blood, the world will see her as black.

Is this true? Clearly, there is a good deal of idiosyncratic variation from person to person in terms of how prototypical they are of a particular race. But if you average across many people, what do observers generally view as the threshold where one race ends and the other race begins?

A team of researchers led by Arnold Ho of Harvard University recently examined this question by using a face-morphing computer program. In one study, participants were presented with faces on a computer screen. They were told that each time they pressed the “continue” button the face currently on the screen would morph slightly (in reality, 1 percent increments) into a different race. They were further instructed to keep pressing “continue” until the exact moment they felt that the person on the screen now belonged to another race…

…The legal definition of race membership has a checkered history. Although the precise figure differed from state to state, many U.S. states outlined specific fractions of blackness a person needed to possess in order to be considered legally black (and therefore ineligible for rights and privileges that were exclusive to whites). Similar rules existed for Native Americans. Nowadays, the tables have turned in some respects. Because in some cases being black or Native American can be an advantage (for example, some affirmative action policies), many are motivated to see the threshold lowered so that the category is more inclusive, not less. In other words, we see some movement in the direction back toward the one-drop rule

Read the entire article here.

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Black and White, or Shades of Gray? Racial Labeling of Barack Obama Predicts Implicit Race Perception

Posted in Barack Obama, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2010-07-27 15:53Z by Steven

Black and White, or Shades of Gray? Racial Labeling of Barack Obama Predicts Implicit Race Perception

Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy
Volume 10, Issue 1 (December 2010)
pages 207–222
DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-2415.2010.01213.x

Lori Wu Malahy
University of Washington

Mara Sedlins
University of Washington

Jason Plaks, Associate Professor of Psychology
University of Toronto

Yuichi Shoda, Professor of Psychology
University of Washington

The present research capitalized on the prominence and multiracial heritage of U.S. 2008 presidential election candidate Barack Obama to examine whether individual differences in classifying him as Black or as multiracial corresponded to differences in implicit perception of race. This research used a newly developed task (Sedlins, Malahy, & Shoda, 2010) with digitally morphed mixed-race faces to assess implicit race perception. Participants completed this task four times before and one time after the election. We found that people who labeled Obama as Black implicitly perceived race as more categorical than those who labeled Obama as multiracial. This finding adds to the growing literature on multiracial perception by demonstrating a relationship between the explicit use of multiracial and monoracial race classification and implicit race perception. The results suggest potential implications for governmental, educational, and judiciary usage of racial categories.

Read or purchase the article here.

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