Poster F26, Tuesday, March 28, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Race, Facial Expression, and Weapon Identification: An Associative Priming Study
Arthur Barrera1, Yesenia Padilla1, Reiko Graham1; 1Texas State University
Associative priming tasks have shown that Caucasians identify weapons faster and more accurately when they are preceded by African American faces, which is thought to occur because both African American faces and weapons are associated with threat. If this is correct, then other threat-related information (e.g., anger) should also moderate this effect. This study examined the effects of prime race and facial expression using a weapon identification task in 23 Caucasians (Mage = 22.5 years) at a racially-diverse University in Southwest Texas. The task consisted of Caucasian and African American face primes (neutral and angry expressions) and word targets (weapons or tools); participants were required to indicate whether they saw a weapon or a tool. Repeated-measures ANOVAs were conducted on reaction times and accuracy scores with prime race (Black vs. White), prime expression (angry vs. neutral), and target category (weapon vs. tool) as within-subjects variables. Overall, participants were more accurate at identifying targets (both weapons and tools) primed by African American faces, possibly due to a heightened state of vigilance evoked by these primes. Participants more accurately identified targets primed by neutral faces, possibly due to angry faces capturing attention. Consistent with previous research, participants were faster at identifying weapons vs. tools. While preliminary, results are inconsistent with a threat-based explanation for the weapon identification effect and suggest that geographical location may be an important factor in the replicability of studies involving racial biases. We are currently collecting data to examine these effects in other racial and ethnic minorities.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Person perception