Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Degree In


First Advisor

Neel, Rebecca

First Committee Member

Windschitl, Paul D.

Second Committee Member

Kochanska, Grazyna


When do targets of stigma seek to manage the prejudice they face? Recent work shows that stigmatized targets anticipate that others view their group as posing specific threats, and as a result, prioritize threat-mitigating strategies when motivated to convey a positive impression (e.g., Black men prioritize smiling to reduce physical safety threat; Neel, Neufeld, & Neuberg, 2013). I predicted that stigmatized targets use these strategies selectively: First, with people vulnerable to the threat the target is stereotyped to pose, and second, in environments that make the target’s threat salient. Black and White male participants read about a hypothetical interaction with a stranger and then ranked self-presentational strategies in order of importance for making a good impression. Study 1 showed that environmental threat and partner vulnerability did not influence rank of smiling; however, after being made aware of stereotypes people hold of African Americans in general (Study 2), Black men trended toward prioritizing smiling more in a threatening (compared to a non-threatening) environment or with a vulnerable (compared to a non-vulnerable) partner. Although further work is needed to replicate this effect before drawing concrete conclusions, this finding speaks to targets strategically employing threat-reducing behaviors with specific perceivers and in certain environments.


vi, 73 pages


Includes bibliographical references.


Copyright © 2018 Bethany Lassetter

Included in

Psychology Commons