Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Cheryl L. Dickter

Committee Members

Salih Can Aciksoz

Catherine A. Forestell


News reports of criminals often provide sympathetic descriptions of White criminals, while demonizing Black criminals; this discrepancy has been found to result in viewers holding racialized beliefs about crime. The purpose of the current study was to examine the potential implications of media portrayals by examining whether the perceptions of an alleged criminal would vary based on the target's race and whether he was described in a sympathetic or neutral manner. Participants read either sympathetic or neutral descriptions of a violent crime where the alleged criminal was either White or Black, and then answered questions about their perceptions of that criminal. Results indicated that while low-prejudiced participants' perceptions were not affected by the manipulations, high-prejudiced participants viewed the Black criminal more positively when he was described in a sympathetic manner than when described neutrally; the manipulations did not affect high-prejudiced participants' perceptions of the White criminal. The results also suggest that the relationship between individual levels of prejudice and ratings of the criminal become non-significant for Black and White targets when a sympathetic depiction of the event is given. The implications for prejudice theories and practical applications are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Thesis is part of Honors ETD pilot project, 2008-2013. Migrated from Dspace in 2016.

On-Campus Access Only