Implicit and explicit emotional reactions to witnessing prejudice

Toni Schmader, Alyssa Croft, Marchelle Scarnier, Brian Lickel, Wendy Berry Mendes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The present study examined how individual differences in motivation to respond without prejudice predict self-reported negative affect and physiological responses to the prejudicial acts of others. One hundred and one White participants were paired with a Black "partner" and together they watched two White men on film having either a pro- or antidiversity discussion. The higher participants were on internal motivation to respond without prejudice, the greater their self-reported negative affect and the more they exhibited distress-related physiological responses during the antidiversity discussion. In contrast, during the prodiversity discussion participants lower in internal motivation to respond without prejudice showed greater physiological distress, but did not self-report more negative affect. These results suggest that only those who have internalized egalitarian goals exhibit the negative emotional responses likely to promote opposition to expressions of intergroup bias; those who lack these goals might instead react against efforts to promote diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-392
Number of pages14
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Diversity attitudes
  • Intergroup emotion
  • Prejudice
  • Psychophysiological threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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