Perceived Racial Bias and Perceptions of Trust
Nickel, Madeline Maria
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With recent increased attention to a long history of racial injustice in society, it has become imperative to learn about the perceptions and experiences of racial minorities. Although trends may suggest that racial prejudice is on the decline (Charlesworth & Banaji, 2019), Black Americans report that they continue to face discrimination and are treated less fairly than their White counterparts (Pew Research Center, 2019). Research suggests that racial biases lead to a multitude of negative interpersonal outcomes for Black people, such as feeling suspicious or distrustful of White people and exercising vigilance toward positive actions, which can in turn elicit anxiety (Tropp, 2006). The present research includes two experiments that investigated how perceptions of racial bias by Black participants impact judgments of trustworthiness of Black and White targets related to positive emotional expressions. In Study 1, Black participants were given a media article that depicted White people as either racially biased or not racially biased in response to events in the lives of Black people. Study 2 also included a control article in which White peoples responses to Black people were not described. In both studies, participants rated true smiles as more trustworthy than false smiles on White but not Black faces. On average, Black targets were rated as relatively more trustworthy regardless of the type of smile they displayed. These effects were not moderated by whether White people were depicted as racially biased or not racially biased in the initial media article. Together, the findings provide novel evidence for the impact of perceived racial bias on attributions of trustworthiness related to positive emotional expressions.