A voluminous literature has examined how primates respond to nonverbal expressions of status, such as taking the high ground, expanding one's posture, and tilting one's head. We extend this research to human intergroup processes in general and interracial processes in particular. Perceivers may be sensitive to whether racial group status is reflected in group members' nonverbal expressions of status. We hypothesized that people who support the current status hierarchy would prefer racial groups whose members exhibit status-appropriate nonverbal behavior over racial groups whose members do not exhibit such behavior. People who reject the status quo should exhibit the opposite pattern. These hypotheses were supported in three studies using self-report (Study 1) and reaction time (Studies 2 and 3) measures of racial bias and two different status cues (vertical position and head tilt). For perceivers who supported the status quo, high-status cues (in comparison with low-status cues) increased preferences for White people over Black people. For perceivers who rejected the status quo, the opposite pattern was observed.
Weisbuch, M., Michael Slepian, C.P. Eccleston, and N. Ambady. "Nonverbal expressions of status and system legitimacy: An interactive influence on race bias." Psychological Science 24, no. 11 (November 2013): 2315-2321.
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