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Not your average bigot: The better-than-average effect and defensive responding to Implicit Association Test feedback



Not your average bigot: The better-than-average effect and defensive responding to Implicit Association Test feedback



British Journal of Social Psychology 56(1): 125-145



A robust body of literature on the better-than-average effect suggests that people believe that they are better than the average others across a variety of domains. In two studies, we examined whether these better-than-average beliefs occur for bias related to stereotyping and prejudice. Moreover, we investigated the hypothesis that better-than-average beliefs will predict defensive responding to feedback indicating personal bias (e.g., preferences for majority groups, societally endorsed stereotypes). Specifically, we examined defensive responses to implicit attitude feedback. Study 1 examined this prediction using archival analysis of two large, online samples of participants completing a Weight-related Implicit Association Test (IAT). Study 2 conceptually replicated Study 1 using nine different, randomly assigned IATs and additional measures of defensiveness. In both studies, people generally believed that they were less biased than others. Moreover, people responded defensively to feedback indicating they were biased. This effect was moderated by better-than-average beliefs such that feedback indicating societally consistent bias was related to defensiveness most (and sometimes only) when people believed they were better than average initially. This work represents the first foray into examining the possible moderating role of social-comparative beliefs in predicting responses to implicit attitude feedback and spurs several important avenues for future research.

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Accession: 058427932

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 27709628

DOI: 10.1111/bjso.12168


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