Essentialist beliefs predict automatic motor-responses to social categories

Brock Bastian*, Steve Loughnan, Peter Koval

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Essentialist thinking has been implicated in producing segregation between social groups even in the absence of negative attitudes. This mode of category representation brings social group information to the fore in social information processing, suggesting that the social consequences of essentialism are associated with basic categorization processes. Drawing on recent work demonstrating that automatic approach and avoidance behaviors are directly embedded in intergroup categorization, we show that people who hold essentialist beliefs about human attributes are faster to approach their ingroup. Moreover this relationship is not accounted for by explicit prejudice towards the outgroup and essentialist beliefs were unrelated to implicit evaluation of either group. The findings demonstrate that essentialist beliefs are associated with immediate behavioral responses attached to social category exemplars, highlighting the links between these beliefs and basic categorization processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-567
Number of pages9
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
Volume14
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011

Keywords

  • automatic motor-behaviour
  • embodiment
  • intergroup categorization
  • psychological essentialism
  • PSYCHOLOGICAL ESSENTIALISM
  • LAY THEORIES
  • PREJUDICE
  • RACE
  • INFORMATION
  • IMPLICIT
  • AVOIDANCE
  • ATTENTION
  • COGNITION
  • CONSEQUENCES

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