Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.


Access Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Throughout American history, African Americans have been negatively stereotyped and dehumanized (e.g., believed to be less evolutionarily evolved). Recent research shows that African Americans are also sometimes superhumanized, meaning that they are believed to possess physical qualities that are supernatural (e.g., able to withstand great pain; Waytz, Hoffman, & Trawalter, 2014). Both dehumanization and superhumanization suggest that African Americans are perceived to not be as human as White Americans. Two studies sought to investigate dehumanizing and superhumanizing attributions in the context of athletics. Specifically, I tested whether perceivers made different attributions of Black and White athletes’ physical prowess by attributing more negative (e.g., aggressive, animalistic) rather than positive (e.g., active, athletic) physical traits towards Black (vs. White) athletes, and whether these negative physical attributions implied more dehumanization and superhumanization when describing Black athletes in comparison to White athletes. In contrast to my hypotheses, I found that White athletes were perceived to be more representative of negative physical traits in comparison to Black athletes. Furthermore, greater attribution of negative physical traits was similarly associated with greater dehumanization for Black and White athletes. I explore possible reasons for these unexpected findings.


First Advisor

Nilanjana Dasgupta