Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-11-2016

Major Department or Program



S. Brooke Vick


Two studies examined the different consequences of confronting prejudice for allies of African Americans and allies of overweight people, and also evaluated how perceptions of the ally were influenced by the social identity of both the ally and the participant. Using an online survey platform, we presented participants in study one with a weight discrimination scenario, and participants in study two with a race discrimination scenario. Next, participants in each study evaluated the ally who confronted the discrimination. We hypothesized that allies who confronted weight bias, a more socially acceptable prejudice, would be perceived more negatively than allies who confronted racial bias, a prejudice that is more socially censured. Research demonstrates that when low-status allies confront prejudice they are perceived as hypersensitive, but that targets themselves may prefer lowstatus allies. Consequently, we expected that White or thin participants would prefer White or thin allies, and African American participants would prefer African American allies. We did not expect to see ingroup preference for overweight individuals, as past research indicates that they lack a sense of group identity. Our findings did not support the idea that allies of weight prejudice were perceived more negatively than allies of race prejudice. However, African American and White participants preferred same race allies, whereas overweight participants did not prefer overweight allies, and in fact derogated them more than thin participants. Moreover, we found that both system justifying beliefs and past experiences with discrimination moderated the relationship between ally and participant identity, yet this produced distinctive effects in each study, reflecting differing perceptions regarding the expression of weight and race bias.

Keywords: prejudice, discrimination, confrontation, allies, social status, weight prejudice, race prejudice

Page Count


Subject Headings

Group identity -- Psychological aspects, Discrimination against overweight persons, Discrimination -- African-Americans, Physical-apperance-based bias, Body weight -- Prejudice, Social sciences, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2016 -- Psychology Department

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Document Type

Whitman Community Accessible Thesis

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