Economic scarcity increases racial stereotyping in beliefs and face representation

Michael M. Berkebile-Weinberg, Amy R. Krosch, David M. Amodio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Racial discrimination typically expands under resource scarcity, but the psychological mechanisms driving this effect remain poorly understood. We examined the role of stereotypes in this effect, given their theorized function in asserting and maintaining existing group hierarchies, and hypothesized that stereotype expression would be heightened in response to scarcity, a signal of social instability. In Study 1, the manipulated perception of scarcity strengthened reported knowledge of stereotypes of Black Americans as low in socioeconomic status and as threatening, relative to control participants. In Study 2, perceived scarcity increased the stereotypicality of participants' visualizations of a Black male face, as assessed using a reverse correlation procedure and judged by independent raters. Study 3 replicated the effect of scarcity on stereotypic face visualizations and further demonstrated that scarcity increased anti-Black stereotypes even among individuals with relatively weak implicit stereotype associations. Together, these studies reveal that the mere perception of scarcity can increase stereotyping of Black Americans, as expressed in self-reports and implicit visualizations of Black faces. We discuss the potential role of stereotyping under scarcity as a means to justify racial discrimination and maintain power structures in response to systemic threat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104354
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Face perception
  • Scarcity
  • Stereotyping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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