Washington: Everyone might be a bit of a racist but don't blame yourself - it is because of the books you read, movies and television shows you watch and the websites you surf, new research said.

“There's one idea that people tend to associate black people with violence, women with weakness, or older people with forgetfulness because they are prejudiced,” said Paul Verhaeghen, professor in psychology at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who led the study.

“But there's another possibility that what's in your head is not you, it's the culture around you,” a Georgia statement quoted Verhaeghen as saying.

“And so what you have is stuff you picked up from reading, television, radio and the Internet. And that's the question we wanted to answer: Are you indeed a racist,” the British Journal of Social Psychology reports.

So, the researchers gave their participants a questionnaire designed to rate the amount of prejudice (both negative and positive) they exhibited.

They also timed their subject's response times to different types of word pairs.

The first types were word pairs typically associated with stereotypes, like black-lazy, female-weak or old-lonely.

They contrasted this with pairs of words that contain the same first word but are not stereotypical pairings, like black-goofy, female-uptight or old-playful.

A third type were words that are highly related but do not reflect stereotypes, like night-cool or summer-sunny.

These very fast response times that people tend to exhibit for stereotypical pairs are a reflection of an unconscious, gut-level type of prejudice, social psychologists said.

(Agencies)