Anger primes prejudice
You may be more prejudiced than you think, especially if you’re angry and approached by someone of a different race, religion or creed.
A study slated for publication in the Spring 2004 edition of Psychological Science (the flagship Journal of the American Psychological Society) by psychology professors David DeSteno and Nilanjana Dasgupta from Northeastern University and UMass Amherst respectively, reveals that the experience of anger causes automatic, immediate prejudices against those who are not a part of one’s social group. The study has particular relevance for those in professions requiring quick assessment and action, especially for those in jobs like law enforcement and security. Study participants included New York City residents and college undergraduates who were assigned to novel groups – either as individuals who tend to "over estimate" or "under estimate" numerical judgments – based on a bogus personality test they believed to be valid. They were then led to experience one of three emotional states -- anger, sadness, or neutrality. Once the emotions had been induced, participants completed rapid categorizations of faces of people in their in-groups or out-groups -- people who were both like them and unlike them with respect to the created estimator groups -- that were preceded by quickly displayed words that were either positive or negative in tone. These rapid response tasks provide a window into the spontaneous and non-conscious evaluations that individuals attached to the social groups.
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