International Journal of Internet Science

A peer reviewed open access journal for empirical findings, methodology, and theory of social and behavioral science concerning the Internet and its implications for individuals, social groups, organizations, and society.

Volume 1, Issue 1 (Special Issue, March 2006)

Race of Interviewer Effects: What Happens on the Web?
Maria Krysan1, Mick P. Couper2
1University of Illinois at Chicago, 2University of Michigan

Abstract: This paper builds on a surprising finding in an earlier laboratory experiment studying race of interviewer effects in live as against "virtual" interviews where videos of an interviewer reading the questions are played to respondents on a laptop computer (Krysan & Couper, 2003). Unexpectedly, Whites in the virtual interviewer condition gave more racially conservative responses to the Black as compared to the White interviewer. Our post-hoc interpretation was that negative stereotypes are triggered when subjects are presented with an image of the target group, and thus the virtual Black interviewer, rather than suppressing racial prejudice with social presence, instead activated negative attitudes. We tested this hypothesis with a Web survey-based experiment using a representative sample of White respondents (Knowledge Networks panel, n = 1120). A 2 x 2 between-subjects design manipulated race of interviewer and social presence versus mere presence, using images of Black or White persons. Findings indicate mixed support for the hypothesis that mere presence may activate negative attitudes, while social presence may lead to censoring or editing or these negative attitudes.

Keywords: Racial attitudes, social presence, interviewer effects

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