Gennaro Pica Simona Sciara Stefano Livi Giuseppe Pantaleo

Ethnic prejudice in person memory. Lessened retrieval-induced forgetting of negative traits ascribed to an African-American target

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The present research shows how, in a constant background of moderate threat to the self, people with prejudicial attitudes towards stigmatized group members (African-American individuals) produce specific patterns of biased memories, generated by retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF). In a 2 (valence of personality traits ascribed to the target: positive vs. negative) × 2 (ethnicity of the target person: European-American individual vs. African-American individual) betweenparticipants design, we observed a comparatively reduced RIF effect with respect to participants' recall of negative personality traits ascribed to the African-American target. Such effect is interpreted as functional to the maintenance of participants' prejudicial views. We conclude by suggesting that different patterns of selective memories may be used to this end, and encourage researchers to add to this issue.


  • Ethnic Prejudice
  • Motivated Cognition
  • Person Memory
  • Retrieval-Induced Forgetting


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