Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Nao Hagiwara


Schools should be safe and supportive spaces for all students, yet Black students tend to face biased treatment in the education system, which often results in harsh disciplinary measures. This research examined the role of animalistic dehumanization (i.e., perceiving others as animal-like and uncultured and denying uniquely human characteristics), in predicting choice of harsher disciplinary measures for Black students as opposed to White students. It was hypothesized that individuals who dehumanize Black students to a greater degree would be more likely to believe that Black students need to be disciplined through harsher measures. Additionally, it was hypothesized that the link between dehumanization and choice of disciplinary measure would be mediated by empathy, attribution of mind, and/or perceived threat. Both Study 1 (in which dehumanization was assessed) and 2 (in which dehumanization was experimentally manipulated) failed to provide evidence supporting the role of dehumanization in differential choices of school disciplinary measures for Black vs. White students. However, both studies provided evidence suggesting that dehumanization of and negative attitudes toward Black Americans are still prevalent and related in American society, and that animal learning perceptions and paradigms influence participant perceptions of threat from students and disciplinary decisions. These findings indicate a need for continued investigation of racial stereotypes about students when assessing racial disparities in school discipline.


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