Abstract

Low- and high-prejudiced individuals exhibited differential cortical and behavioral responses to the pending and actual evaluation of emotional in- and out-group faces. Participants viewed warning stimuli indicating the subsequent presentation of an angry or happy African-American or Caucasian face. Upon presentation of the face, participants judged whether they would enjoy working with the individual. The contingent negative variation (CNV) component of the event-related potential in response to the pending presentation of in- and out-group emotional stimuli distinguished low- from high-prejudiced individuals. Specifically, low-prejudiced individuals showed greater early CNV in anticipation of angry African-American targets, and increased reaction time to evaluating these faces. High-prejudiced individuals showed decreased early CNV in anticipation of angry African-American faces, accompanied by decreased response latencies, and enhanced CNV in anticipation of happy Caucasian faces. Notably, no group differences emerged in either the pending or actual evaluation of happy out-group faces. The data are discussed with regard to implications for understanding the nature of prejudice, and underscore both the importance of emotional expression on how a target is appraised and also the utility of using converging measures to clarify processes that may contribute to social behavior.

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