Title page for ETD etd-07052012-203541

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Miller, Ben
Author's Email Address bmill45@lsu.edu
URN etd-07052012-203541
Title Man without a country: How character complexity primes racial stereotypes
Degree Master of Mass Communication (M.M.C.)
Department Mass Communication
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Sanders, Meghan Committee Chair
Weber, Christopher Committee Member
DeFleur, Margaret Committee Member
  • character complexity
  • priming
  • stereotypes
Date of Defense 2012-07-28
Availability unrestricted
This study examined the role character complexity plays in racial attitudes of television viewers. Previous research suggests that stereotypes and counter-stereotypes play vastly different roles in how people process information. Stereotypes act as automatic cues that call up pre-made judgments upon exposure to them. Meanwhile, counter-stereotypes actually work on a conscious processing level, forcing viewers to think more deeply about individuals when presented with them, skipping the automatic recall mechanism all together. By layering counter-stereotypes and stereotypes together in the same stimulus, this study examined whether the existence of there would be an appreciable difference between viewers exposed to solely stereotypes or both using both implicit and explicit measures.

To investigate the relationships between character complexity and racial attitudes, this study used a 2 x 2 factorial experimental design featuring 99 students and the data was analyzed using factorial ANOVAs. In addition to the character complexity variable, an additional exposure variable measured differences between single or repeated exposures of the stimulus videos. This experiment used an Implicit Association Test, a Positive Attitudes Towards Blacks scale and a Black Stereotypes scale to measure racial attitudes. Findings show there was no difference in positive, negative or implicit attitudes between the two complexity conditions. And furthermore, there was also no demonstrated difference between the single- and repeated-exposure conditions.

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