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Date of Award


Access Type

Campus Access

Document type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Nilanjana Dasgupta

Second Advisor

Linda Isbell

Third Advisor

Lisa Sanders

Subject Categories

Ethnic Studies | Social Psychology | Sociology


Theories of emotion and intergroup relations predict a link between fear, outgroup perception, and behavioral intentions toward specific groups. However, surprisingly, past research has not empirically tested the impact of actually experiencing incidental fear on appraisals of in- and outgroups and socially impactful decision-making. Accordingly, the goals of this dissertation were three-fold: (1) to determine whether the experience of incidental fear increases biased decision-making targeted at racial outgroup vs. ingroup members; (2) to investigate whether some individuals are more impacted by fear than others; and (3) to explore the psychological mechanism underlying the biasing impact of fear. In Study 1, fear increased race biased decision-making for female (but not male) participants, and for those who chronically believe the world is a dangerous place. In Study 2, fear shunted attention selectively towards Black over White faces for female (but not male) participants; however, it did not produce race biased decision-making. In Study 3, fear did not modulate attention to danger-relevant stimuli or intergroup decisionmaking. The implications of these findings and future research directions are discussed.