The nonverbal mediation of self-fulfilling prophecies in interracial interaction

Carl O. Word, Mark P. Zanna, Joel Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Two experiments were designed to demonstrate the existence of a self-fulfilling prophecy mediated by nonverbal behavior in an interracial interaction. The results of Experiment 1, which employed naive, white job interviewers and trained white and black job applicants, demonstrated that black applicants received (a) less immediacy, (b) higher rates of speech errors, and (c) shorter amounts of interview time. Experiment 2 employed naive, white applicants and trained white interviewers. In this experiment subject-applicants received behaviors that approximated those given either the black or white applicants in Experiment 1. The main results indicated that subjects treated like the blacks of Experiment 1 were judged to perform less adequately and to be more nervous in the interview situation than subjects treated like the whites. The former subjects also reciprocated with less proximate positions and rated the interviewers as being less adequate and friendly. The implications of these findings for black unemployment were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-120
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1974

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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