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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2006 Jun;32(6):833-46.

The causes and consequences of an avoidance-focus for interracial interactions.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee 32306, USA.


The current work examined the causes and consequences of non-Black people's desire to avoid interracial interactions (an avoidance-focus). Expecting to respond with racial bias in inter-racial interactions was argued to result in an avoidance-focus for such interactions, which was hypothesized to have negative implications for the quality of interracial interactions. Across three studies, feedback indicating that non-Black participants would respond with racial bias in interactions with Black people resulted in anxiety and the desire to avoid the interaction. In addition, when participants with an avoidance-focus interacted with a Black confederate (Study 2), they had shorter interactions that were rated as less pleasant by the confederate and participant as compared to those without an avoidance-focus. Avoidance-focused participants were less interested in future interactions and came across as more avoidant and biased to their partner than less avoidance-focused participants. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for racial relations.

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