Bias at the intersection of identity: Conflicting social stereotypes of gender and race augment the perceived femininity and interpersonal warmth of smiling Black women
Abstract Research indicates that Black women are socially ignored given that they are neither the prototypical Black person nor the prototypical woman. We build from augmentation principle to propose that factors that increase the salience of Black women's gender identity may lead to particularly positive social expectations given countervailing associations of Blackness/threat. First, Study 1 demonstrates that smiles increase the salience of Black women's gender identity as indicated by fewer categorization errors in a speeded gender categorization task. Next, Study 2 demonstrates that, consistent with augmentation principle, the expression of a smile increases the perceived femininity of a Black woman to a greater degree than a smile expressed by a White woman. Moreover, smiles increase positive expectations for an interaction with a Black woman more so than they do for a White woman. We conclude that Black women navigate a precarious balance between social invisibility and social hypervisibility based on shifts in the salience of their gender identity. Highlights Black women navigate conflicting social stereotypes of their race (i.e., aggression) and their gender (i.e., warmth). We find that smiles accentuate Black women’s gender (rather than racial) identity. As a result, smiling Black women are rated as particularly feminine and warm, more so than smiling White women. We conclude that smiles seem particularly warm when they occur in the presence of conflicting stereotypes of aggression.
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