Date of Award

Spring 5-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

Dr. Bradley Green

Committee Chair Department

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Dr. Virgil Zeigler-Hill

Committee Member 2 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Dr. Randolph Arnau

Committee Member 3 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 4

Dr. David K. Marcus

Committee Member 4 Department

Psychology

Abstract

The current paper sought to test the hypothesis that the facial expression of smiling would mitigate the effects of out-group discrimination. Study 1 examined the influence of facial expression (smiling or frowning), gender (man or woman), and race (Black or White) on resource allocation decisions. Participants were shown arrays of facial photographs. The arrays all contained eight photographs and were counterbalanced to contain all combinations of the variables of interest (i.e., each group had a smiling man of each race, a smiling woman of each race, a frowning man of each race, and a frowning woman of each race). The participants were asked to imagine that the photographs were taken of other college students. They were then asked to allocate hypothetical extra credit points among the photographs. The Black participants tended to show out-group discrimination regardless of the facial expression of the photographs. The White participants demonstrated no form of discrimination when the targets were smiling, but actually favored the frowning Black targets over the frowning White targets. In Study 2, a second group of participants rated the photographs used in Study 1 across 15 different attributes. The number of points allocated to each photograph in Study 1 and the ratings from Study 2 were then explored though bivariate correlations. All of the attributes with the exception of Dominance were highly correlated with the number of points the photographs received in Study 1. The results are discussed in terms of halo effects and cultural display rules for emotions.

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