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Abstract

Prior research has shown that after viewing Black males faces, participants are faster at categorizing weapons and slower at categorizing tools than after viewing White male faces. The present research seeks to extend this effect to determine whether hearing African American Vernacular English (AAVE) elicits these same threat-related stereotypes. In Study 1, we replicate a previous finding using a national online sample. In Studies 2a and 2b we establish a paradigm by which to examine the effects of dialect on the automatic activation of crime stereotypes. We found that hearing AAVE activates stereotypes, leading to faster categorization of weapons and slower categorization of tools than hearing Standard American English. We discuss the possibility that these effects may be especially notable in visually impoverished environments when auditory cues are the strongest indicator of race and the implications for AAVE speakers.

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