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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.
Wu, Deborah, "Perceptions of Athletes: Exploring Race-Based Dehumanization and Superhumanization" (2019). Masters Theses. 864.