Racialized images: Tracing appraisals of police force and protest.

As race acts as a social frame of reference, it should guide individual’s appraisal of visual representations of social events and issues. Thus, grounded in Scherer’s (2009) model of appraisal as a sequential process, in 2 experiments (N = 133, 166) we used early event-related potentials (ERPs) of brain activity (the N100, P200, P300) to examine Black and White participants’ appraisals of the novelty of images of police force against Black (and White) targets, as well as of Black-led protest. We used a later ERP (the late positive potential, LPP) as well as blood pressure to assess their appraisal of motivational relevance, and self-reported affect and emotion to assess conscious experience. White participants’ early ERPs suggested that they appraised the images as more novel than did Black participants. Nevertheless, Black participants’ later (LPP) ERP, and blood pressure, suggested that they appraised the images as more motivationally relevant. Consistent with this, Black participants expressed more attentiveness, anger, and empowerment at the images, whereas White participants expressed more surprise. A mediation model in Experiment 2 showed that self-reported familiarity with past racial violence, as well as surprise and attentiveness to the images, explained the difference between Black and White participants’ appraisals of motivational relevance (i.e., the LPP). We discuss implications for appraisal theory, stress and coping, and societally situated cognition and affect. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)