Because Whites use positivity to conceal bias, people of color may question whether Whites’ positivity is genuine. We predicted that those suspicious of Whites’ motives may mentally represent Whites as less trustworthy and more hostile than those low in suspicion. We tested these predictions using reverse correlation. First, we examined high- and low-suspicion Black participants’ mental representations of Whites using neutrally expressed (Study 1a) and smiling (Study 2a) White base faces. In Study 2b, we compared suspicious Black participants’ mental representations of Whites to a randomly generated control. In Study 2c, we extend these results to perceptions of smile authenticity and rule out a potential stimulus effect. The results suggest that compared to unsuspicious participants and controls, suspicious Black participants hold less trustworthy, less authentic, and sometimes more hostile representations of Whites. Suspicion’s effect on intergroup dynamics may therefore extend up the cognitive stream to the fundamental mental representations of Whites.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Clinical Psychology