The effects of stereotypical depictions of African-Americans in web-based news stories presented in conditions with different levels of distraction
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] The study explored how individuals cognitively process stereotype-consistent and stereotype-inconsistent information about African-American characters depicted in online news stories presented with different types of distracting advertisements and how they evaluate the elements of online media messages. Four individual difference factors, including cognitive control abilities and the habit of media multitasking, were included in the study as moderators. A 2 (Stereotype attribute) x 2 (Distraction) experiment indicated that participants failed to individuate African-American characters when news stories were presented on web pages with highly distracting advertisements. Light multitaskers had a higher ability to individuate story characters in the condition of low distraction than heavy multitaskers. High message distraction led to a lower level of story encoding and more negative evaluations of wwebeb pages. The ability to update memory with new items was found to positively correlate with the number of character attributes recalled by participants. Finally, the ability to shift tasks was a significant moderator of the message distraction effect on evaluations of stories, advertisements, and credibility judgments. The study findings are discussed and suggestions for future research are provided.
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