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Subjective Impressions of Minority Group Representation in the Media: A Comparison of Majority and Minority Viewers’ Judgments and Underlying Processes

Donnel A. Briley, University of Sydney
LJ Shrum, University of Texas at San Antonio
Robert S. Wyer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Abstract

Consumers’ judgments of the frequency with which members of an ethnic minority are represented in advertisements can depend on the processing strategies they employ both at the time the ads are first encountered and at the time the judgments are reported. These strategies, in turn, can depend on whether the consumers personally belong to the minority group in question. European American and African American participants received a series of advertisements that varied in terms of the relative numbers of Black and White models that were portrayed. European Americans overestimated the number of Black models that appeared in the ads when the actual incidence of these models was low, but this overestimation decreased (and thus they became more accurate) as the number of ads containing these models increased. In contrast, African Americans were accurate when only a small number of Black models were presented, but became less accurate as the actual incidence of the models became greater. European Americans apparently based their estimates on the ease of recalling individual instances at the time of judgment, whereas African Americans appeared to perform an online tally of the number of Black models shown at the time they encountered them.

Suggested Citation

Donnel A. Briley, LJ Shrum, and Robert S. Wyer. "Subjective Impressions of Minority Group Representation in the Media: A Comparison of Majority and Minority Viewers’ Judgments and Underlying Processes" Journal of Consumer Psychology 17.1 (2007): 36-48.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/briley/4