SAGE Journals

Are Attitudes Contagious? Exposure to Biased Nonverbal Signals Can Create Novel Social Attitudes

Posted on 2019-08-20 - 12:26

Prior work has established that nonverbal signals that capitalize on existing cultural biases can shift attitudes toward members of familiar social groups (e.g., racial minority group members). This research is the first to examine whether nonverbal signals can influence adults’ attitudes toward unfamiliar individuals outside the context of existing cultural biases. In a series of studies, we examined whether seeing one individual receive more cold, unfriendly nonverbal signals than another individual would lead to biases in favor of the target of more positive nonverbal signals. Consistent with our preregistered hypotheses, exposure to nonverbal bias in favor of one individual over another led participants to develop nonverbal signal-consistent explicit biases. Moreover, a combined analysis of the data from all four samples indicated that participants also formed nonverbal signal-consistent implicit biases. Taken together, these findings suggest that nonverbal signals have the potential to create and spread attitudes toward others.


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