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Does Incidental Anxiety Increase Stereotyping in Evaluative Judgement?

Researcher Linda Miller

Supervisors Dr Guy Curtis

Date: Completed December 2011

AIM

The aim of the present study was to investigate whether anxiety increases stereotyping when people are making evaluative judgements of others. It was hypothesised that anxious participants would make more stereotypical judgements in comparison to the non-anxious participants. The hypothesis was based on competing classes of theories. Affect-priming theory and affect-as-information theories argue that anxiety leads to affect congruent impressions. Whilst the anxiety assimilation hypothesis proposes that anxiety leads to more stereotypical impressions.

METHOD

All participants listened to an audio recording of a nurse talking about her occupation. They then rated her on a number of personality traits. Half of the participants underwent an anxiety induction before completing this task.

RESULTS

The hypothesis that anxious participants would form more stereotypic impressions was not supported. Impression ratings between the anxious and control participants did not differ significantly, with neither group forming more stereotypic impressions. All participants did form more affect-congruent impressions. This effect was not mediated by memory but suggests that anxious people were forming impressions of other that were affect-congruent due to attributing their anxiety to the impression target.