Psychology, Department of


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A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychology, Under the Supervision of Professors Sarah J. Gervais and Carey S. Ryan. Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2011

Copyright 2011 Amy L. Hillard


Speaking up about or confronting prejudice creates more positive attitudes, but the mechanism underlying confrontation’s prejudice reducing effect remains unclear. Based on an integration of the confronting prejudice and persuasion literatures, I expected that observing a confrontation (vs. no confrontation) reduces prejudice and discrimination; that elaborating on confrontation messages reduces prejudice and discrimination more than confrontation alone; and that elaborating on confrontation messages causes attitude change that lasts longer than confrontation alone. Participants were recruited to complete measures of sexism and feelings toward subtypes of women across three time points (i.e., pre-test, lab manipulation, and post-test). During the lab manipulation, participants imagined observing sexist jokes that were either confronted or not confronted and then wrote a either a control essay or an essay elaborating on the confrontation. Across these manipulations, there were three conditions to which 361 participants were randomly assigned: no confrontation control, confrontation-only, or confrontation+elaboration. 1-14 days after the lab manipulation, 161 participants completed the post-test, which included a measure of discrimination, ostensibly as part of an unrelated study. Results indicated that observing a confrontation (vs. no confrontation) resulted in more positive feelings toward women and less discrimination in the short- and longer-term. Contrary to predictions, elaboration of confrontation messages did not reduce prejudice or discrimination more than confrontation alone or cause attitude change to last longer over time. Overall, this study suggests that confronting prejudice reduces prejudice and discrimination in observers in the longer-term but that this effect is not enhanced by elaborating on confrontation messages.

Advisers: Sarah J. Gervais and Carey S. Ryan