To investigate how adolescents interpret ambiguous actions in hypothetical interracial peer encounters, we conducted a study in which 8th- and 11th-grade students (N = 837) evaluated 4 interracial peer encounters in which the intentions of the protagonist were ambiguous. The sample was evenly divided by gender and included both African American and European American adolescents. European American students, male adolescents, and 8th graders were more likely to attribute negative intentions to the protagonist in interracial exchanges than were African American students, female adolescents, and 11th graders. Although all participants viewed peer and teacher accusations of wrongdoing in ambiguous situations as unfair, ethnic minority students as well as female adolescents rated accusations of wrongdoing as more unfair than did ethnic majority or male adolescents. Eleventh graders were more likely to view accusations of wrongdoing for protagonists with a prior history of transgression as fair than were 8th graders. The findings are discussed in light of efforts to reduce prejudice and to facilitate positive intergroup peer interactions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies