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Br J Soc Psychol. 2004 Jun;43(Pt 2):299-314.

Prejudice on the stage: self-monitoring and the public expression of group attitudes.

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Service de Psychologie Sociale CP 122, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 50 av. F. Roosevelt, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium.


According to self-monitoring theory (Snyder, 1987), high self-monitors tailor their self-presentation for the sake of desired public appearances, whereas low self-monitors are relatively unlikely to practice such situationally guided impression management strategies. It was therefore predicted that, when asked to publicly express their attitudes regarding a social group, high self-monitors would modify their expressive behaviour in a direction consistent with the attitudes attributed to their audience. Conversely, low self-monitors would be unaffected by their audience's attitude towards this group. A study was conducted to test this hypothesis: participants, whose level of self-monitoring and prejudice towards homosexuals had been previously measured, were asked to report their thoughts regarding this group in an open-ended manner. They anticipated discussing these thoughts with an audience perceived as either prejudiced or tolerant, or they expected that their responses would remain private. In line with predictions, high self-monitors expressed more prejudice when the audience was perceived as prejudiced than tolerant, whereas low self-monitors were not affected by the audience's attitude.

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