Challenge and Threat During Social Interactions with White and Black Men

Published in: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, v. 28, no. 7, July 2002, p. 939-952

by Wendy Berry Mendes, Jim Blascovich, Brian Lickel, Sarah B. Hunter

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

This research examined the extent to which minority or devalued group members engendered threat reactions from interaction partners. Participants' cardiovascular responses marking challenge and threat were obtained during social interactions with White or Black confederates who described their background as either socioeconomically advantaged or disadvantaged. Main effects for race and status were found. Men interacting with Black or disadvantaged confederates, participants exhibited cardiovascular threat responses, whereas participants interacting with White or advantaged confederates primarily exhibited cardiovascular challenge responses. Consistent with cardiovascular responses, participants paired with White partners performed better during a cooperative task than participants paired with Black partners. In contrast to the physiological and behavioral indicators, self-reports indicated greater liking and more agreement with positive statements for Black partners than White partners. These findings demonstrate the value of multiple, and less consciously controlled measures for the study of intergroup relations.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.