Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Stockdale, Margaret


This study examined perceptions toward Affirmative Action beneficiaries among non-racists, aversive racists, and blatant racists, and the effects of evaluating a mediocre Black employee on subsequent attitudes toward Affirmative Action. Using a novel procedure for categorizing participants into one of these three racism groups, which utilized both implicit and explicit measures of racism, undergraduate students (n = 127) rated the job performance of a White or Black attorney in a positive or mediocre performance condition and provided their attitudes toward Affirmative Action. Although differential evaluations of job performance were not affected by racism type, a significant three-way interaction (employee race X performance condition X racism type) for attitudes toward Affirmative Action was found. Aversive racists, compared to non-racists and blatant racists had lower attitudes toward Affirmative Action after evaluating the mediocre Black attorney and more positive attitudes after evaluating the strongly performing Black attorney. This finding supports Gaertner and Dovidio's (2000) proposition that aversive racists have fragile pro-Black attitudes that may easily erode when presented with stereotype-confirming exemplars.




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