Date of Award

5-1-2019

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Behavior Analysis and Therapy

First Advisor

Dixon, Mark

Abstract

The study assessed how stimuli that contradict pre-experimental histories affect the formation of new relations. The study also assessed whether social variables such as race would influence college students’ perceptions of people of different races and job types. Twenty-six college students at a Midwestern University participated in the study. During the pre-test, participants rated the degree of “Good” or “Bad” of various pictures of African American males, police officers, and random objects on a Likert-type scale. Next, based on their pre-test results, participants completed a match to sample task that paired pictures of African American males and police officers opposite of their initial perceptions. Afterward, all participants again completed the Likert-scale rating task. Pre-test results revealed that some participants demonstrated strong negative pre-experimental biases toward police officers and that the race of the participants influenced their pre-test ratings. Individual data showed that 22 out of 24 participants changed their perceptions for at least one stimulus. Match to sample and post-test results revealed that participants with strong pre-experimental biases took more trials to complete the task, scored less accurately when conditions included socially loaded stimuli, and were less likely to change mean ratings for police officers during the post-test rating scale.

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