The role of appearance stigma in implicit racial ingroup bias

Laurie A. Rudman, Meghan C. McLean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Minority groups who show implicit outgroup preference (African Americans, the elderly, and the overweight) are also likely to suffer from appearance stigma (for deviating from cultural aesthetic norms; Goffman, 1963). Three studies showed that people who automatically preferred Whites using the attitude Implicit Association Test (IAT) also associated Whites more than Blacks with attractiveness using the aesthetic IAT. In Study 1, the aesthetic IAT covaried with Black American’s preference for Black women with chemically treated versus natural hair, and rating products that purchase “racial capital” (e.g., skin whiteners) as important and useful. In Study 2, Black American’s pro-White bias was only eliminated when the attitude IAT represented their group as more attractive than Whites (i.e., when appearance stigma was reversed). Further, the aesthetic IAT predicted the attitude IAT more uniquely than outgroup contact. In concert, the findings suggest that appearance stigma is an overlooked factor influencing racial asymmetries in automatic ingroup esteem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-393
Number of pages20
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • appearance stigma
  • implicit attitudes
  • intergroup relations
  • outgroup contact
  • social cognition


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