Racial stereotyping others is more common among people who’ve been drinking alcohol, but just thinking about alcohol can have the same effect. That’s according to a new study by University of Missouri’s Bruce D. Bartholow, who found that people who saw alcoholic beverage ads were more likely to mistakenly see tools as handguns when associated with black male faces.
This is how the experiment went down: participants were shown a bunch of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink ads. Then they saw pictures of black and white men’s faces for a split second, followed immediately by pictures of handguns and tools. Those who were exposed to the alcohol ads were more likely to exhibit racial bias, by mistakenly identifying the tools as handguns after seeing photos of black male faces. Participants who saw non-alcoholic drink ads didn’t make the same mistake as often. The quick speed of the experiment kept participants from over-thinking their responses.