New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

Income Inequality and White-on-Black Racial Bias in the United States: Evidence From Project Implicit and Google Trends
Paul Connor, Vasilis Sarafidis, Michael J. Zyphur, Dacher Keltner, and Serena Chen

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Several theories predict that when income inequality is higher, racism will also be higher. To test this prediction, Connor et al. analyzed income inequality and racial bias in the United States between 2004 and 2015. They used income-inequality coefficients computed from the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’s) Statistics of Income, measures of implicit and explicit racial bias from Whites toward Blacks obtained from Project Implicit — a large-scale online project conducted by researchers at Harvard University — and a state-level measure of the Google searches that contained racial slurs, available on the Google Trends website. By using different models to analyze their data, the authors found that within states, higher income inequality was associated with higher rates of Whites’ racial bias. This was a very small effect and was not found when racial bias was measured by Google searches. However, given that small effects can accumulate and become meaningful and given the social importance of racial bias, the authors suggest that increased levels of explicit racism should be considered a consequence of increased income inequality.

Support for Resettling Refugees: The Role of Fixed Versus Growth Mind-Sets
Shilpa Madan, Shankha Basu, Aneeta Rattan, and Krishna Savani

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What distinguishes individuals who support resettling refugees into their own countries from those who oppose it? It appears to depend in part on their beliefs in individual characteristics as either malleable (i.e., a growth mind-set) or fixed (i.e., a fixed mind-set), this study suggests. Across six experiments, Madan and colleagues showed that individuals with a growth mind-set were more likely to support their country taking in refugees than were individuals with a fixed mind-set. This was true for individuals from the United States and from the United Kingdom. When participants’ mind-set was manipulated by randomly assigning them to read a text that supported evidence either for a growth mind-set or for a fixed mind-set, their attitudes toward refugee resettling depended on the text read, indicating that mind-set can be manipulated and that it is one of the causes of support or lack of support for refugee resettling. Relative to participants with a fixed mind-set, participants with a growth mind-set were more likely to believe that refugees can assimilate to the host-country culture but less likely to believe that they should assimilate. Thus, people’s beliefs about the mutability of individual characteristics seem to be linked to their opinions about refugees’ ability to adapt to a new culture. These beliefs influence people’s support of policies regarding the resettling of refugees, which can affect the lives of the more than 3 million people who annually seek asylum.

Automatic Prioritization of Self-Referential Stimuli in Working Memory
Shouhang Yin, Jie Sui, Yu-Chin Chiu, Antao Chen, and Tobias Egner

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People usually process information more quickly when it is related to themselves than to others (e.g., responses are faster to one’s own face than to other faces), showing a self-reference bias. To investigate whether self-referential information is also prioritized in working memory (WM), which allows us to temporarily keep information in mind for further processing, Yin et al. trained participants to form associations between colors and social labels (e.g., self, friend, stranger) and tested whether participants would prioritize the self-related color associations over the other-related color associations in a WM task. In the WM task, participants saw two colored circles in different locations and then had to decide whether a new location and a social label matched any of the two colored circles. Participants were equally accurate but faster when responding to self-related colors and labels than to friend-related or stranger-related colors and labels. This self-bias was not a product of increased attention during encoding or retrieval of the colors in the WM task. Moreover, it occurred automatically, and persisted when self-referential information was rarely presented and paying more attention to it would hurt performance on the task. This automatic prioritization of self-referential information in WM may be the basis of egocentric biases in decision making, the authors suggest.

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