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The present study explored how people’s beliefs shape both self and other attributions for people’s attitudes toward racial/ethnic minorities. Participants (N = 143) completed measures of their own and others’ motivations to control prejudice and evaluated racial groups via feeling thermometers. Results revealed divergent patterns in perceptions for white and minority participants. Among whites (N = 97), those low in external (v. internal) motivation to control prejudice were less suspicious of others’ underlying motives to control prejudice. For minorities (N = 45), as external motivation increased, suspicion of others’ motives decreased. Minorities high in suspicion felt most negatively toward whites, and whites high in suspicion evaluated Latinxs negatively. Further, whites who are internally motivated evaluate blacks marginally favorably, suggesting that a lack of prejudice does not indicate a presence of positive attitudes. These findings are consistent with racial ambivalence theory, reveal that attributional biases occur regardless of one’s internal level of prejudice, and may provide context for why people selectively perceive racism and perform egalitarianism.
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