Seeing Is Perceiving: The Influence Of Race As A Peripheral Cue On The Stereotypical Perception Of A Spokesperson In An Advertisement




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Due to the vast amount of stimuli individuals come in contact with daily, people often tend to look for easy-to-process cues to help them make quick judgments about what they are seeing (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). While this can sometimes be helpful, it is not always so. For example, if someone makes a snap judgment about another person based on the color of their skin, it is possible they will fall prey to stereotypes. In the case of African-Americans, a number of negative stereotypes have been perpetuated through the years, contributing to prejudice (Devine, 1989). This study sought to answer the question of whether viewers of a print advertisement would use the race of the ad's spokesperson to reach stereotypical conclusions about the model more often when he was African-American than Caucasian. Findings from a quantitative analysis suggest that African-American spokesperson's are generally viewed more stereotypically, although with more contemporary and in some cases, more socially acceptable stereotypes, than a Caucasian. This finding was not affected by the race of the viewer or how heavily they had been exposed to the media.
The implications of these findings, as well as study limitations and suggestions for further research, are also offered.