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Exposure To Exceptional Minority Performers Shapes Racial Bias
Racial bias is pervasive, persistent, and powerful. Black Americans are often the targets of racial prejudice, discrimination, and negative stereotypes. Simultaneously, the accomplishments of exceptional Black performers such as LeBron James and Beyoncé are widely celebrated across the US. How does exposure to exceptional Black performers shape racial bias? We propose that exposure to exceptional Black performers fuels positive stereotypes of Black people, especially among Black Americans. Six preregistered experiments and surveys with a total of 4,125 participants lend support to this hypothesis. We find that exposure to exceptional Black performers increases racial superhumanization bias—the tendency to attribute supernatural, extrasensory, and magical mental and physical qualities to Black people more than to members of other racial groups. These findings highlight an overlooked antecedent of racial superhumanization bias; challenge a fundamental assumption of social identity theory; and suggest that the social and cultural prominence of exceptional minority members can shape stereotypes of millions of people.