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Is Kate Winslet more American than Lucy Liu? The impact of construal processes on the implicit ascription of a national identity

Authors

  • Thierry Devos,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA
      Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Thierry Devos, Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182-4611, USA (tdevos@sciences.sdsu.edu).
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  • Debbie S. Ma

    1. Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA
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Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Thierry Devos, Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182-4611, USA (tdevos@sciences.sdsu.edu).

Abstract

In four studies, we investigated the role of person construal on the implicit ascription of a national identity. Participants completed Implicit Association Tests (Studies 1 and 3) or Go/No-go Association Tasks (Studies 2 and 4) assessing the extent to which the concept American was linked to an Asian American celebrity (Lucy Liu) and to a White European celebrity (Kate Winslet). In contrast to explicit responses, the Asian American target was implicitly regarded as being less American than the White European target. This effect was more pronounced when targets were categorized based on their ethnic (rather than personal) identity (Studies 1 and 2) and when the exemplars draw attention to the ethnic identity of the Asian American target (Studies 3 and 4). These findings provide evidence for the flexibility of construal processes and the role of ethnicity in the implicit ascription of a national identity.

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