Self-categorization with a novel mixed-race group moderates automatic social and racial biases

Jay J. Van Bavel, William A. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People perceive and evaluate others according to social categories. Yet social perception is complicated by the fact that people have multiple social identities, and self-categorization with these identities shifts from one situation to another. Two experiments examined whether self-categorization with a novel mixed-race group would override automatic racial bias. Participants assigned to a mixed-race group had more positive automatic evaluations of Black ingroup than Black outgroup members. Comparing these evaluations to Black and White faces unaffiliated with either group indicated this preference was driven by ingroup bias rather than outgroup derogation. Moreover, both outgroup and unaffiliated faces elicited automatic racial bias (White > Black), suggesting that automatic evaluations are sensitive to both the current intergroup context (positive evaluations of novel ingroup members) and race (racial bias toward outgroup and unaffiliated faces). These experiments provide evidence that self-categorization can override automatic racial bias and that automatic evaluations shift between and within social contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-335
Number of pages15
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Attitudes
  • Automatic
  • Implicit
  • Intergroup
  • Social categorization
  • Social identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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