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Prejudice, unintentional bias, intergroup behavior


Contemporary prejudice research focuses primarily on people who are motivated to respond without prejudice and the ways in which unintentional bias can cause these people to act inconsistent with this motivation. However, some real-world phenomena (e.g., hate speech, hate crimes) and experimental findings (e.g., Plant & Devine, 2001; 2009) suggest that some expressions of prejudice are intentional. These phenomena and findings are difficult to explain solely from the motivations to respond without prejudice. We argue that some people are motivated to express prejudice, and we develop the motivation to express prejudice (MP) scale to measure this motivation. In seven studies involving more than 6,000 participants, we demonstrate that, across scale versions targeted at Black people and gay men, the MP scale has good reliability and convergent, discriminant, and predictive validity. In normative climates that prohibit prejudice, the internal and external motivations to express prejudice are functionally non-independent, but they become more independent when normative climates permit more prejudice toward a target group. People high in the motivation to express prejudice are relatively likely to resist pressure to support programs promoting intergroup contact and vote for political candidates who support oppressive policies. The motivation to express prejudice predicted these outcomes even when controlling for attitudes and the motivations to respond without prejudice. This work encourages contemporary prejudice researchers to broaden the range of samples, target groups, and phenomena that they study, and more generally to consider the intentional aspects of negative intergroup behavior.


This is a preprint of the article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which can be found here: