Accuracy and Bias in Perceptions of Relationship Interest for Intergroup and Intragroup Roommates

Tessa V. West, John F. Dovidio, Adam R. Pearson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research suggests that the perception of anxiety in intergroup interactions can be detrimental to relationship formation. However, the underlying processes through which this occurs remain unclear. The present longitudinal study, which studied same- and different-race/ethnicity roommates over 6 weeks, investigated whether perceived partner anxiety moderates two types of processes previously shown to facilitate relationship development: (a) tracking accuracy, the relationship between perceivers' assessments of their partner's interest in remaining roommates and the partner's stated interest and (b) positive directional bias, representing overestimation of partners' relationship interest. Under high levels of perceived anxiety, both accuracy and directional bias were generally low, independent of the dyad type. In contrast, when perceived anxiety was relatively low, Whites and minorities in cross-race dyads and Whites in same-race dyads showed a positive directional bias in their evaluations; Whites in cross-race relationships also achieved tracking accuracy. Implications of perceived anxiety for perceptual dynamics in cross-group friendships are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-242
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • intergroup anxiety
  • interpersonal accuracy
  • interpersonal perception
  • race relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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