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Abstract

Previous research has shown that people make more derogatory attributions for the behavior of outgroup members than for the behavior of ingroup members. However, these results may be due merely to a cultural stereotype of the outgroup rather than to ethnocentrism (which would entail dislike for members of the outgroup). To examine the effect of ethnocentrism on attributions, irrespective of the cultural stereotype, and to examine whether people who differ in ethnocentrism also differ in their attributions for whites and blacks, high and low ethnocentric whites made attributions for the success and failure of black and white actors on a task which required an ability that was outside the scope of the cultural stereotype of blacks, i.e., ESP ability. Examination of these attributions revealed that the more ethnocentric the subjects were, the more they tended to give whites greater credit for success than blacks, and the more they tended to give whites less blame for failure than blacks. These results were discussed in terms of their implications for the persistence of prejudice and for the effects of motivations on attributions for the behavior of others.