Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Is prejudice contagious? Examining how verbal and non-verbal messages influence the spread of bias

Allison L Skinner, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Previous research indicates that implicit biases predict non-verbal behavior and that exposure to racially biased non-verbal messages can increase implicit bias against racial outgroups. Taken together, these findings suggest that implicit bias can be viewed as contagious. In other words, observers of non-verbal bias develop implicit bias, which is behaviorally expressed as non-verbal bias, leading to the development of implicit bias among those who observe them. Moreover, accompanying verbal messages may moderate the effects of non-verbal messages on bias development. The literature on persuasion suggests that pairing explicit verbal messages with non-verbal messages has the potential to interfere with the development of bias. ^ The overall aim of this research was to determine whether and under what conditions exposure to non-verbal bias results in implicit bias development. Hypothesis 1 was that exposure to non-verbal bias against a novel social target would result in implicit bias. Study 1 participants formed implicit biases, but not in the expected direction. However, they did demonstrate biased non-verbal behavior consistent with the observed non-verbal bias. In Studies 2 and 3 Hypothesis 1 was fully supported, providing evidence of social bias resulting from exposure to biased non-verbal behavior. Hypothesis 2 was that verbal messages that convey bias (positive or negative) would interfere with implicit bias development. Non-verbal messages were expected to have the strongest effect on implicit bias when paired with verbal messages, conveying equality among social targets. This hypothesis was fully supported in Studies 2 and 3, participants only showed evidence of non-verbal message consistent implicit bias in the neutral verbal message condition. The final goal of this research was to obtain neural evidence of bias development. Hypothesis 3 was that activation in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) would differentiate social targets. As predicted, participants showed less mPFC activation in response to targets of non-verbal bias relative to comparison targets, but only in the equality message condition. Results support the notion that implicit bias can spread via exposure to non-verbal bias, and that it is most contagious when paired with verbal equality messages. Implications of these findings and future directions for this research are discussed.^

Subject Area

Biology, Neuroscience|Psychology, Personality

Recommended Citation

Skinner, Allison L, "Is prejudice contagious? Examining how verbal and non-verbal messages influence the spread of bias" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3689061.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3689061

Share

COinS