Differential effects of positive mood states on racial ingroup perception
Pugh, Alan T.
Li, Beverly S.
May 14, 2014
Positive emotions may have the ability to elicit more inclusive, flexible thinking, but positive moods can also lead to more stereotyping behavior. We examined whether two positive mood states, joy and contentment, had different effects on racial ingroup perception. We hypothesized that joy would elicit a more inclusive framework whereby participants would perceive ambiguous-/other-race faces as more a part of their racial ingroup, whereas contentment would promote a more exclusive framework. We induced White participants (n = 58) into one of three mood conditions (joy, contentment, neutral); then they rated a series of monoracial and White/Asian biracial faces on a spectrum from completely White to completely Asian. After inducing participants into a different mood state, they rated the attractiveness of other-race and same-race faces. Our results did not support our hypotheses likely because the mood inductions were unsuccessful. However, those in the contentment condition (relative to the neutral condition) found other-race faces more attractive. Although this was a significant finding, it was in the opposite direction of our predictions. Two potential moderators, strength of racial group identification and interracial dating experience, showed interesting trends but were not significant. Implications of the mood, interracial dating, and group identification effects for ingroup bias and racial prejudice are discussed.
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