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<p>Ideal affect is defined as the affective states that people value or ideally want to feel (Tsai, 2007). Research has shown that ideal affect is strongly affected by culture. The two main types of culture that have been studied are independent cultures and interdependent cultures (Triandis, 1998). According to Affect Valuation Theory, cultures that value independence also value High Arousal Positive (HAP) states whereas interdependent cultures value Low Arousal Positive (LAP) states (Tsai et al., 2006). Prior research showed that when targets' expressions matched the participant’s ideal affect, targets were liked more, regardless of gender and race (Tsai et al., 2018). However, these studies involved only White and East Asian participants and used only White and East Asian targets. We wanted to assess whether these results would generate to Black male faces perceived by White participants. Research has shown that White participants view Black faces differently from White faces (Friedman & Kawakami, 2018). To test the effect of race on ideal affect's impact on perceptions, I replicated Tsai et al.'s (2018) study and included Black male faces as targets in addition to White and Asian male faces. Given that independent cultures are expected to prefer HAP states, as argued in the Affect Valuation Theory, we expect to see White Americans, who value individualism (Hofstede, 1981), preferring excited faces. However, research has also shown that Black faces are seen as more aggressive as compared to White faces by White participants (Blair et al., 2002). I hypothesized that White participants would not prefer Black male faces expressing HAP states over Black faces expressing LAP states. Results showed that White participants rated excited White faces as more agreeable and more extraverted than calm White faces. The results also supported the hypothesis, such that White participants did not rate excited Black faces to be more agreeable and more extraverted than calm Black faces, indicating that an excited versus calm smile may not affect the extent to which White individuals find Black targets agreeable.</p>
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