Intended and unintended consequences of internal motivation to behave nonprejudiced: The case of benevolent discrimination


  • Parts of this research were conducted while the authors were at the University of Jena, Germany and the University of Groningen, Netherlands.


Internal motivation to behave nonprejudiced reduces prejudice. The present research looks at the impact of internal motivation in a special case of prejudiced behavior, namely benevolent discrimination. It was hypothesized that internal motivation does not reduce, but rather increases benevolent discrimination as long as individuals are not aware of its negative consequences. This is because of the positive intention required to show benevolent discrimination. Once the negative consequences have been made salient, internal motivation will facilitate self-criticism of one's own benevolently discriminating behavior, which will be reflected in a more critical reappraisal of previous benevolently discriminating behavior. The predictions were supported in three studies. Study 1 analyzed the impact of internal motivation on benevolent discrimination. Study 2 and 3 analyzed the effect of internal motivation on the critical reappraisal of one's own benevolently discriminating behavior. The implications for the regulation of benevolent discrimination in the broader context of social discrimination are discussed. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.