Intergroup Biases in Person Perception: The Impact of Race and Expansive Poses on Perceived Trait Attributions and Evaluations of Professional and Interpersonal Success
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A long history of research demonstrates that when perceiving others, information from bodily cues can inform our impressions, evaluations, and decisions. However, this work has largely focused on perceptions of White targets. The current work, fills this research gap by investigating the implications of body pose for both White and Black targets. In three studies, participants were presented with images of White and Black targets with expansive and constrictive poses. First, while expansive poses relative to constrictive poses increased perceptions of dominance for targets of both races, they increased perceptions of aggression for Black targets only. Furthermore, mediation analyses revealed that although dominance related to expansive poses was associated with greater perceptions of competence for White targets, this was not the case for Black targets. Notably, mediational analysis also revealed that perceptions of aggression related to expansive poses were associated with lower perceptions of warmth for Black but not White targets. The final two experiments examined the impact of poses on evaluations in professional and interpersonal domains. The results demonstrated that expansive compared to constrictive poses led to perceptions of professional success for White targets, but had less impact for Black targets. Moreover, expansive poses also led to a greater willingness to interact with a White target but had no advantage for a Black target in an interpersonal context. The implications of these findings for our understanding of body perception and race are discussed.