Behavioral and neural evidence for an evaluative bias against other people's mundane interracial encounters

Yin Wang, Thomas Schubert, Susanne Quadflieg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
161 Downloads (Pure)


Evaluating other people’s social encounters from a third-person perspective is a ubiquitous activity of daily life. Yet little is known about how these evaluations are affected by racial bias. To overcome this empirical lacuna, two experiments were conducted. The first experiment used evaluative priming to show that both Black (n = 44) and White Americans (n = 44) assess the same mundane encounters (e.g., two people chatting) less favorably when they involve a Black and a White individual rather than two Black or two White individuals. The second experiment used functional magnetic resonance imaging to demonstrate that both Black (n = 46) and White Americans (n = 42) respond with reduced social reward processing (i.e., lower activity in the ventral striatum) and enhanced mentalizing (e.g., higher activity in the bilateral temporoparietal junction) towards so-called cross-race relative to same-race encounters. By combining unobtrusive measures from social psychology and social neuroscience, this work demonstrates that racial bias can affect impression formation even at the level of the dyad.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1329–1339
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2020

Structured keywords

  • Social Cognition
  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • dyad perception
  • impression formation
  • person perception
  • prejudice
  • racial diversity


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