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Blinded by the accent!: the minor role of looks in ethnic categorization

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date01/2011
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Journal number1
Volume100
Number of pages14
Pages16-29
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The categories that social targets belong to are often activated automatically. Most studies investigating social categorization have used visual stimuli or verbal labels, whereas ethnolinguistic identity theory posits that language is an essential dimension of ethnic identity. Language should therefore be used for social categorization. In 2 experiments, using the "Who Said What?" paradigm, the authors investigated social categorization by using accents (auditory stimuli) and looks (visual stimuli) to indicate ethnicity, either separately or in combination. Given either looks or accents only, the authors demonstrated that ethnic categorization can be based on accents, and the authors found a similar degree of ethnic categorization by accents and looks. When ethnic cues of looks and accents were combined by creating cross categories, there was a clear predominance of accents as meaningful cues for categorization, as shown in the respective parameters of a multinomial model. The present findings are discussed with regard to the generalizability of findings using one channel of presentation (e.g., visual) and the asymmetry found with different presentation channels for the category ethnicity.