Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Racial Tension In A 'Split Second'

Date:
December 23, 2008
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Interracial and interethnic interactions can often be awkward and stressful for members of both majority and minority groups. A new study reveals just how fragile intergroup relations are when people are first getting acquainted. The results showed that a mere one second delay in conversation was sufficient to raise anxiety in intergroup but not intragroup interactions.

Interracial and interethnic interactions can often be awkward and stressful for members of both majority and minority groups. People bring certain expectations to their interactions with members of different groups—they often expect that these interactions will be awkward and less successful in establishing positive, long-lasting relationships than interactions with members of one’s own racial or ethnic group.

These expectations can cause people to interpret the vague comments and behaviors of others more negatively in intergroup situations, further confirming their negative perceptions of these interactions. Research has suggested that apprehensive behaviors such as brief hesitations may often be a result of anxiety experienced in intergroup interactions.

However, Yale University psychologist Adam R. Pearson along with his colleagues from the University of Connecticut wanted to know if the opposite was true: Can brief hesitations in conversation (often associated with anxiety) actually cause interracial tension?

In this study, subjects engaged in one-on-one conversations via closed-circuit television with someone of the same (intragroup) or different (intergroup) racial background. Unbeknownst to the participants, half of the conversations occurred with a brief delay—equipment was used to delay auditory and visual feedback for one second throughout the conversation. This delay was subtle and was not consciously detected by the participants. The remaining conversations occurred in real time, with no delay. Following the conversation, participants independently completed questionnaires about their experience, rating their feelings and those of their partners.

The results, reported in the December issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, revealed that a mere one second delay in conversation was sufficient to raise anxiety in intergroup but not intragroup interactions. Both whites and minorities in the delayed intergroup conversation felt more anxious and viewed their partners as being more anxious compared to participants who engaged in conversations in real time. In addition, participants in the delayed intergroup conversation indicated less interest in getting to know their partners. Surprisingly, participants in intragroup conversations reported feeling even less anxious in the delayed conversation than they did when interacting in real time and were unaffected by the delay when it came to wanting to get to know their partner.

These findings suggest that ingroup members are given a “benefit of the doubt” following a brief delay in conversation. However, this courtesy is not extended to members of other racial or ethnic groups. In addition, these results offer direct experimental evidence of just how fragile intergroup relations are when people are first getting acquainted. This study also provides some insight into why it is that attempting to regulate our behavior to ease tension in interracial interactions can sometimes backfire.

The authors suggest that this can introduce delays in the natural flow of conversation which can further contribute to anxiety of all members involved in the interaction. The authors conclude that “the findings may also have direct practical implications for understanding the persistence of racial and ethnic disparities across a wide variety of contexts, including law enforcement, employment and legal settings, where appearing apprehensive may place members of racial and ethnic outgroups at a distinct disadvantage.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Racial Tension In A 'Split Second'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081217124146.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2008, December 23). Racial Tension In A 'Split Second'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081217124146.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Racial Tension In A 'Split Second'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081217124146.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins