Cognitive Accessibility of Racial Stereotypes, Beliefs, and Self-esteem in Black and White College Students
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The problem. The purpose of this study was to assess whether internalization of racial stereotypes existed in black and white college students. It was hypothesized that cognitive accessibility of racial stereotypes would occur and would be displayed by differential reaction times to stereotypes following the racial categories of black and white. In addition, the cognitive accessibility of racial stereotypes was hypothesized to be related to levels of self-esteem and racial beliefs. Procedure. The sample was composed of 76 college students (39 Black - 20 male, 19 female, and 37 white - 14 male, 23 female) who performed a semantic priming task (Dovidio, Evans, and Tyler, 1986; Dovidio, Perdue & Gaertner, 1991) and completed questionnaires assessing selfesteem and racial beliefs. Findings. An internalization pattern of positive versus negative stereotypes emerged. Irrespective of race, black and white subjects associated positive more than negative stereotypes with the category of white and negative more than positive stereotypes with the category of me. There were no correlations between levels of self-esteem and internalization. Overall all subjects had an above average level of self-esteem, independent of whether they displayed any internalization of stereotypes. There were correlations between levels of racism and the degree to which subjects associated positive versus negative words to the two categories of people and the category of self. Those subjects exhibiting higher levels of racism had slower reaction times to positive stereotypes, when they followed the black and me prime. Conclusions. The findings of this study suggest that the internalization that existed was one of an evaluative nature. Subjects internalized the association of positive and negative stereotypes, regardless of levels of self-esteem. This was different from our prediction that subjects would display internalization of black and white stereotypes. Recommendations: Re evaluate the stereotypes to assess how they are defined by a sample of black students. It also may be more beneficial to examine the effects of internalization of positive versus negative traits.
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