The Whitewashing Effect: Using Racial Contact to Signal Trustworthiness and Competence.

Abstract

The present research examines whether people use racial contact to signal positive and negative social attributes. In two experiments, participants were instructed to fake good (trustworthy/competent) or fake bad (untrustworthy/incompetent) when reporting their amount of contact with a range of different racial groups. In Experiment 1 (N = 364), participants faking good reported significantly more contact with White Americans than with non-White Americans, whereas participants faking bad did not. In Experiment 2 (N = 1,056), this pattern was replicated and was found to be particularly pronounced among those with stronger pro-White bias. These findings suggest that individuals may use racial contact as a social signal, effectively "whitewashing" their apparent contact and friendships when trying to present positively.

DOI: 10.1177/0146167215616801

Cite this paper

@article{Macchia2016TheWE, title={The Whitewashing Effect: Using Racial Contact to Signal Trustworthiness and Competence.}, author={Stephen T La Macchia and Winnifred R. Louis and Matthew J. Hornsey and Michael Thai and Fiona Kate Barlow}, journal={Personality & social psychology bulletin}, year={2016}, volume={42 1}, pages={118-29} }