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The Role of Affect in the Control of Attention to Monoracial and Racially Ambiguous Faces

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Author: Proia, Alice Grace
Advisor: Dickter, Cheryl L.
Committee Members: Shean, Glenn; Christopher, Freiman
Issued Date: 7/18/2012
Subjects: Race
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/16770
Description: Studies have shown that contextual factors can influence the person perception process and social categorization process (MacLin & Malpass, 2001; Ito et al., 2011; Newton, Dickter, & Gyurovski, 2011; Bartholow & Dickter, 2008). Contextual factors such as emotional affect and the race of surrounding individuals influence the way in which monoracial and racially ambiguous faces are perceived, which can subsequently affect judgments and behaviors (Bartholow & Dickter, 2008; Hugenberg & Bodenhausen, 2004). Much research has focused on the role of contextual factors in the perception of monoracial individuals (e.g. Bartholow & Dickter, 2008); however, research is lacking on the categorization of racially ambiguous individuals and how perceivers may use available contextual information to help reduce ambiguity and facilitate categorization. To examine the role of contextual factors in the perception and categorization of monoracial and racially ambiguous individuals, two studies were conducted in which White college students completed a modified flanker paradigm with Black, White, and racially ambiguous target faces displaying either a neutral, happy, or angry facial expression surrounded by flanker faces that displayed either congruent or incongruent race and affect. Results from Study 1 and Study 2 indicated that participants demonstrated an attentional bias to both Black faces and angry faces, regardless of compatibility with the target face. These findings suggest that because Black faces and angry faces both represent threatening or unfamiliar stimuli they may capture White perceivers' attention.
Degree: Bachelors of Science in Psychology

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