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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 Jan;82(1):5-18.

What are we really priming? Cue-based versus category-based processing of facial stimuli.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, USA.


Results from 5 experiments provide converging evidence that automatic evaluation of faces in sequential priming paradigms reflects affective responses to phenotypic features per se rather than evaluation of the racial categories to which the faces belong. Experiment 1 demonstrates that African American facial primes with racially prototypic physical features facilitate more automatic negative evaluations than do other Black faces that are unambiguously categorizable as African American but have less prototypic features. Experiments 2, 3, and 4 further support the hypothesis that these differences reflect direct affective responses to physical features rather than differential categorization. Experiment 5 shows that automatic responses to facial primes correlate with cue-based but not category-based explicit measures of prejudice. Overall, these results suggest the existence of 2 distinct types of prejudice.

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