Racial and behavioral cues in Black and White children's perceptions of ambiguously aggressive acts

H. Andrew Sagar, Elizabethtown College
Janet W. Schofield


Examined the way in which the interpretation of ambiguous social behavior is influenced by racial stereotypes and cultural differences. 40 Black and 40 White 6th-grade males were shown a variety of ambiguously aggressive behaviors performed by Black and White stimulus figures. As predicted, both Black and White Ss rated these behaviors as more mean and threatening when the perpetrator was Black than when he was White. In contrast, ratings of personal characteristics were in general determined by individual behavior rather than by group stereotypes, although Blacks, whether they were the perpetrator or the recipient of the behaviors, were rated as stronger than their White counterparts. Cultural differences between S groups were apparent in the greater tendency of the White Ss to read threat into ambiguously aggressive behaviors involving no physical contact and to assume that the perpetrators of such behaviors were stronger than the recipients. (24 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved). © 1980 American Psychological Association.