Does a self-protection goal change women’s memory for smiling and neutral Black male faces?

Fri, Feb 28, 2020
Society of Personality and Social Psychology Annual Conference 2020

When interacting with other people, we appraise how they are relevant to our goals. People appraised as goal irrelevant – perceived to neither facilitate nor threaten our goals – may be ignored and forgotten, rendering them interpersonally invisible. Prior findings suggest that Black men may be invisible to White women who are thinking about finding a romantic partner. Conversely, because they are stereotyped as dangerous, Black men may be less likely to be invisible to White women concerned with protecting themselves from danger. We anticipate this pattern to be stronger for neutrally expressive faces (Study 1) than for smiling faces (Study 2), because a smile may attenuate perceived threat. These studies test women’s memory for Black and White male faces as a function of a self-protection goal. Participants read either a self-protection or a no-goal story. Participants next viewed a slide show consisting of six Black and 6 White male faces. After a distractor task, participants’ memory for faces was measured. Data are being analyzed. This research will help us understand whether invisibility can fluctuate depending on others’ social goals. Coauthors: Bethany Lassetter and Dr. Rebecca Neel

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Adira Daniel
Adira Daniel
M.Sc. Candidate