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The role of Chief Wahoo in implicit stereotype activation

Scott A Freng, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Recently there has been debate regarding the appropriateness of universities and professional sport's teams using Native Americans as mascots and nicknames. Proponents of Native American mascots and names argue that these images are meant to honor Native Americans (Davis, 1993; Spindel, 2000). However, opponents of utilizing Native American names and mascots argue that these symbols foster stereotypical views of Native Americans (Davis, 1993; Spindel, 2000). Opponents also argue that mascots create low self-esteem and low self-worth among Native children, facilitate a climate where racism is acceptable, negatively impact Native American academic achievement, and may be detrimental to intergroup relations and increase the likelihood of violence in schools (Davis, 1993; Pewewardy, 1999a; Pewewardy, 1999b; “What's in a name?”, 1996). ^ However, to the researcher's knowledge, no research has examined the possible deleterious effects of mascots. The purpose of this research was to determine if subliminal exposure to Native American mascots/logos could automatically activate Native American stereotypes. In addition, this research sought to further examine the role of personal experience and prejudice level on automatic stereotype activation. Finally, this study examined the relationship between implicit and explicit measures of prejudice. ^ The researcher found some initial evidence that the Chief Wahoo image can automatically activate negative Native American stereotypes. However, there was no impact of personal experience or explicitly measured prejudice level on automatic stereotype activation. In addition, motivation to control prejudiced reactions did not moderate the relationship between implicitly and explicitly measured prejudice level. Implications of these results and possible future investigations are also discussed. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Cognitive

Recommended Citation

Freng, Scott A, "The role of Chief Wahoo in implicit stereotype activation" (2001). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3034375.