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Psychologists find Latinos are better initial interaction partners

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

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Media Contact: Sue Stevens

ARLINGTON - Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have found strong evidence for what they call "the Latino Social Advantage." Social psychologists Renee Holloway, Amy Waldrip and Dr. William Ickes studied the initial interactions of more than 60 pairs of same-sex strangers, looking at all combinations of blacks, Latinos and whites. They found that interactions that included at least one Latino involved more talking, gazing and smiling and were rated as better interactions than those that included only blacks or whites.

The researchers also found that these differences could be traced to the greater percentage of "simpático-relevant" thoughts and feelings that the Latino interaction partners reported, in comparison to the black or white interaction partners. Ickes defines "simpático-relevant" thoughts and feelings as those containing words such as pleasant, agreeable, considerate and friendly.

"We coded the interaction partners' thoughts and feelings for simpatico-relevant words such as pleasant, agreeable, considerate and friendly," said Dr. Ickes. "As we expected, Latinos used these words in their reported thoughts and feelings more than blacks or whites did, and this difference seems to explain the Latino Social Advantage that we observed in the interaction behavior.

The article reporting the psychologists' research was published in the May issue of the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology." Visit www.apa.org/journals/psp and click on "Table of Contents" to access the article.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

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