Measuring Nonverbal Bias Through Body Language Responses to Stereotypes

  • Meadors J
  • Murray C
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Although research has demonstrated the manifestation of racial bias by measuring overt attitudes and behaviors, there has been little examination of the subtle nonverbal cues that may also characterize such bias. The present study investigates implicit racial bias by analyzing nonverbal behaviors of individuals shown video of a criminal suspect whose ethnic identity is manipulated to be Black or White. Participants appeared significantly more uncertain about what they were saying when describing the White suspect than when describing the Black suspect. Participants were also more likely to display ‘‘open’’ posture when describing the Black suspect but ‘‘closed’’ posture (e.g., crossed arms) when describing the White suspect. The results indicate that biases in attitudes and beliefs might be reliably detected and measured through body language. The findings are discussed in terms of how nonverbal behaviors may reveal more subtle forms of prejudice and miscommunication. Contextual correlations between specific nonverbal behaviors and affective states are also discussed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Body language
  • Gender differences
  • Implicit attitudes
  • Nonverbal behavior
  • Stereotypes

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  • Joshua D. Meadors

  • Carolyn B. Murray

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