Graduation Year

2003

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Penner, Louis

Keywords

diversity, self-interest, status, race, fairness

Abstract

The present study examined the effects of perceptions of fairness, prejudice and collective self-interest on the affirmative action attitudes of 85 White undergraduate students. Participants were classified as non-racists, modern racists or old-fashioned racists based on their scores on the Implicit Association Test and Attitudes Toward Blacks scale. In the first phase of the study, participants read affirmative action information preceded by either high or low attention instructions. In the second phase, fairness, status of position and race of the target of an affirmative action plan were manipulated using vignettes. No significant differences were found in the first phase of the study. In the second phase, it was found that when the plan was unfair and the target Black, participants preferred plans for low status positions to plans for high status positions.

This finding was consistent with the idea that fairness, race and collective self-interest are related to affirmative action attitudes. However, contrary to the initial hypotheses, these effects did not interact with level of prejudice. Possible reasons for the null results regarding prejudice were discussed.

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