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Arendt, Florian (2017): Impulsive facial threat perceptions after exposure to stereotypic crime news. In: Communication Research, Vol. 44, No. 6: pp. 793-816 [PDF, 231kB]


Tests were performed to learn whether exposure to news about crimes committed by dark-skinned criminals increases impulsive facial-threat perceptions of meeting dark-skinned strangers in a subsequent situation (media-priming hypothesis), but only when the facial displays are ambiguous (ambiguity hypothesis). The assumption is that news stereotypes prime the “dark-skinned criminal” stereotype, which, in turn, influences subsequent face processing. An experiment with two groups was used to test this prediction. Participants allocated to the treatment group (n = 53) read about crimes committed by dark-skinned criminals. In contrast, for the control group (n = 52), cues indicating skin color were not mentioned at all. As predicted, the treatment increased the perceived facial threat of dark-skinned strangers, but only when the facial displays were ambiguous. Given the importance of the face in social interaction, I discuss important, real-world implications for recipients as well as for journalists and media organizations.

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