- Emotion, Mood, Affect
- Motivation, Goal Setting
- Prejudice and Stereotyping
- Social Cognition
I, along with the graduate and undergraduate students with whom I work, conduct research in the area of stereotyping and prejudice. Our work can be characterized as employing social cognition, motivational, and affective approaches to the analysis of these topics.
A main focus in our research is on issues of control as they relate to stereotyping and prejudice. Our work begins with the now well-documented proposition that prejudiced responses often occur due to largely unintentional and unconscious influences. Specifically, even among people who sincerely embrace low-prejudice values and attitudes, prejudiced responses can arise from automatically activated social stereotypes and implicit prejudices. Our work in this area can be contrasted with other similar research in two main ways. First, rather than assuming that people are unaware of or unwilling to admit to their prejudiced responses, our research underscores the insight people frequently have with respect to their biases. Our work on proneness to prejudice-related discrepancies has established that people do realize that they often respond with greater prejudice than they believe is appropriate. This work has also resulted in the development of an instrument that can be used for measuring prejudice-related discrepancies, which has been validated with behavioral data.
The second unique contribution of this program of research is that, in contrast to the assumption that automatically activated biases cannot be controlled, we have developed and tested a theory for understanding how people can overcome subtle forms of bias. Specifically, the aim of this theory is to identify that mechanisms involved in deautomatizing the processes that frequently give rise to prejudiced responses. Our self-regulation theory builds on the regulatory work of others in social and clinical psychology. In addition, it applies neuropsychological principles of motivation and learning to explain how automatic processes can be interrupted, controlled, and eventually replaced with newly learned automatic patterns of responding that are not prejudiced. Although much of our research has examined the processes involved in the successful self-regulation of prejudice, we have also studied just how deeply rooted propensities for intergoup bias can be given the makeup of human neural machinery.
Our research also examines other processes (i.e., in addition to self-regulatory processes) involved in controlling prejudice. For example, we have examined the effectiveness of the suppression of stereotypic thoughts for controlling prejudice with the goal of understanding when it will versus will not be an effective strategy for control. We have also investigated how certain core American values can contribute to prejudiced attitudes whereas others can serve to curb it, and the role of role of social norms in encouraging or discouraging prejudice.
Another direction of our research has involved taking the minority perspective. Specifically, we have investigated not only Whites' but also Blacks' racial attitudes. Our findings point to different correlates of Whites' and Blacks' racial attitudes, revealing that anti-egalitarianism is a cornerstone of Whites' negative attitudes but experiences with discrimination is a cornerstone of Blacks' negative attitudes. This research also serves to identify the sometimes similar but often different contents of Blacks' and Whites' racial attitudes.
In addition to continuing our research on the self-regulation of prejudice and several other projects related to the issues outlined above, we have recently begun several new lines of research. First, we have been investigating people's naïve theories about how race might influence their responses, their intentions (or lack thereof) to correct for perceived biases, the processes involved in making such corrections, and whether and how naïve theories of bias can be created. Second, we have also been examining people's reactions to being confronted by others with their prejudices. This is an important issue that has thus far been neglected by researchers; we currently know very little about how people will react when others suggest they are being prejudiced, what processes contribute to those reactions, and whether the confrontations can produce public or private changes in behavior. We are addressing these questions in ongoing research, and also making comparisons between how people react to suggestions that they have been sexist versus suggestions that they have been racist.
Interestingly, the research points to lax norms in the case of sexist responses, with people caring little if they have engaged in sexist slipups. Finally, we are working to understand why some Blacks but not others show implicit biases that actually favor Whites over Blacks (i.e., an out-group favoritism effect), and what types of behavior these implicit predict.
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|Photo of Margo Monteith
Department of Psychological Sciences
703 Third Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2081
Phone: (765) 496-9461
Fax: (765) 496-1264