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Evolved danger avoidance and implicit racial stereotypes effects of ambient darkness and beliefs about danger Park, Justin H.

Abstract

Much research suggests that perception of intergroup conflict, threat, and heightened danger may exacerbate outgroup derogation (including racial stereotyping). Based on evolutionary reasoning, ambient darkness and individual differences in belief in a dangerous world (BDW; Altemeyer, 1988) were expected to influence the automatic activation of African stereotypes connoting danger. The implicit association test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998) was used to measure the automatic activation of implicit stereotypes. An interactive effect of BDW and darkness was found. Specifically, there was a positive correlation between participants' BDW and the extent to which participants associated African with the category "danger," but only under conditions of ambient darkness. BDW was unrelated to the extent to which participants associated African with the category "unpleasant." These results support the evolutionary psychological framework, which offers a coherent theoretical framework for understanding the nature of the relationship between danger-perception and outgroup derogation. Some limitations and implications of the study are discussed.

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