Paper If He Can Do It, So Can They: Exposure to Counterstereotypically Successful Exemplars Prompts Automatic Inferences
After incidental exposure to Blacks who succeeded in counterstereotypical domains (e.g., Brown University President Ruth Simmons, Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison), participants drew an automatic inference that race was not a success-inhibiting factor in modern society. Of note, participants’ automatic inferences were not simply guided by their explicit reasoning (i.e., their beliefs about what these exemplars signify about the state of race relations). Studies 1–3 demonstrated the basic automatic inference effect and provided evidence that such effects unfolded automatically, without intention or awareness. Study 4 replicated the effect in non-race-related domains. Subsequent studies examined what features of exemplars (Studies 5 and 6) and inference makers (Studies 7 and 8) prompt automatic inferences. Study 5 suggested that counterstereotypically successful exemplars prompt racism-denying inferences because they signal what is possible, even if not typical. Study 6 demonstrated that when these exemplars succeed in a stereotypical domain (e.g., Blacks in athletics), similar automatic inferences are not drawn. Those most likely to draw automatic inferences are people predisposed to approach the world with inferential thinking: participants dispositionally high in need for cognition (Study 7) or experimentally primed to think inferentially (Study 8).
Published in: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
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