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 ( = 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 (= 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.
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Stephen La Macchia, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia. Email:
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