Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Paul White

Paul White

  • SPN Mentor

My research interests can be placed in three "P's" of social psychology: persuasion, prejudice/ethnic issues, and performance. The question we ask can be simplified to "what motivates behavior" in these areas. In this pursuit, the three areas often overlap in our investigations.

For persuasion, the main focal points are what role does ethnicity/stigma play in persuasion and what happens when we are not motivated or able to pay attention to a message. We explore how the characteristics of the source or target of a message (e.g., race, gender, sexual orientation) affects the persuasiveness and attention given to the communication. Also, we are investigating the possible differential impact that motivation and ability may have on attitude change. In addition, work is underway to investigate the phenomenon of stealing thunder as a persuasive technique and its possible limitations.

For prejudice, we examine the effects of subtle prejudice via persuasion and stereotype trait paradigms. Our main focal point is the development of models for intergroup relations that include the viewpoint of different stigmatized groups toward themselves and other such groups (e.g., African Americans relationships with Asian Americans). In addition, work is underway to explore how and why certain interactions are labeled as prejudicial.

For performance, we investigate what motivates performance and the factors that may undermine performance. We examine how evaluation by self or others influences performance on a task and the impact evaluation has on goal setting. Also, we explore when people may underachieve for social reasons (e.g., not hurt someone's feelings) and the role it may play in group identity/formation. In addition, research is underway to examine the effects of stereotype threat and the impact of its elimination on the performance of those considered not at risk.

Primary Interests:

  • Group Processes
  • Intergroup Relations
  • Motivation, Goal Setting
  • Persuasion, Social Influence
  • Prejudice and Stereotyping

Journal Articles:

  • Harkins, S. G., White, P. H., & Utman, C. H. (2000). The role of internal and external sources of evaluation in motivating task performance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 100-117.
  • Petty, R. E., Fleming, M. A., & White, P. H. (1999). Stigmatized sources and persuasion: Prejudice as a determinant of argument scrutiny. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 19-34.
  • Petty, R. E., Wegener, D. T., & White, P. H. (1998). Flexible correction processes in social judgment: Implications for persuasion. Social Cognition, 16, 93-113.
  • Smith, J. L., & White, P. H. (2002). An examination of implicitly activated, explicitly activated, and nullified stereotypes on mathematical performance: It's not just a female’s issue. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 47, 179-191.
  • Smith, J. L., & White, P. H. (2001). Development of the domain identification measure: A tool for investigating stereotype threat effects. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 61, 1040-1057.
  • White, P. H., & Harkins, S. G. (1994). Race of source effects in the elaboration likelihood model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 790-807.
  • White, P. H., Kjelgaard, M. M., & Harkins, S. G. (1995). Testing the contribution of self-evaluation to goal-setting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 69-79.
  • White, P. H., Sanbonmatsu, D. M., Croyle R. T., & Smittipatana, S. (2002). Test of socially motivated underachievement: "Letting up" for others. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38, 162-169.

Paul White
Department of Psychology
University of Utah
380 South 1530 East, Room 502
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-0251
United States

  • Phone: (801) 585-3998
  • Fax: (801) 581-5841

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