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Arendt, Florian; Steindl, Nina; Vitouch, Peter (1. January 2015): Effects of News Stereotypes on the Perception of Facial Threat. In: Journal of Media Psychology, Vol. 27, No. 2: pp. 78-86
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The human face is central to social interactions and therefore of primary importance in social perception. Two recent discoveries have contributed to a more thorough understanding of the role of news stereotypes in the perception of facial threat: First, social-cognition research has revealed that automatically activated stereotypes influence the perception of facial threat. Individuals holding hostile stereotypes toward dark-skinned outgroup members perceive ambiguous dark-skinned faces as more hostile than similar light-skinned faces. Second, media-stereotyping research has found that the media can influence individuals’ automatically activated stereotypes. Combining these two findings, it was hypothesized that reading tabloid articles about crimes committed by dark-skinned offenders would increase the perceived facial threat of meeting dark-skinned strangers in a subsequent situation. This hypothesis was tested in a laboratory experiment. Participants read crime articles where cues indicating (dark) skin color were mentioned or not. The results showed that reading about dark-skinned criminals increases the perceived facial threat of dark-skinned strangers compared with light-skinned strangers.