Never mind the link between consuming alcohol and racial bias (duh), Professor of Psychological Sciences Bruce D. Bartholow has found that just seeing alcohol-related images can increase expressions of racial bias.
“Simply seeing images of alcohol, but not drinking it, influences behaviors like racial bias on a subconscious level,” Bartholow said. “Walking by a bar or seeing an ad for beer could be enough to affect someone’s mindset. You don’t have to be aware of the effects for it to affect you.”
The study went a little something like this:
Participants who looked at a series of magazine ads for alcoholic beverages were more likely to incorrectly associate guns with black men than those who looked at ads for nonalcoholic beverages such as coffee or juice.
After viewing the magazine ads, people were asked to take a computerized test in which pictures of white and black men's faces were shown for a moment, followed immediately by a picture of a handgun or a tool.
Racial bias was present in both groups taking the fast-paced picture test, but those who had seen pictures of alcohol were much more likely to incorrectly think a picture of a tool was a gun after seeing a black man's face.
From his findings, Bartholow concludes that images of alcohol create the same feelings of inhibition usually associated with alcohol consumption. "In a bar where people are drinking, talk gets looser and people say things they normally wouldn't say," he said. "What seems acceptable in that environment might not be at work or church. Possibly what's happening here is people are loosening their standards and allowing automatic beliefs about groups that they try hard to control in other situations."
So were all of Bartholow's test participants actually racist? Probably not he tells PSYPOST.
“Even if people do their best to be open-minded, we are all aware of stereotypes,” Bartholow said. “Participants’ responses could have been due to associations they are aware of but don’t personally endorse."
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