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The present work explored the influence of emergency severity on racial biases in helping behavior. Three studies placed participants in staged emergencies and measured differences in the speed and quantity of help offered to Black and White victims. Consistent with predictions, as the level of emergency increased, the speed and quality of help White participants offered to Black victims relative to White victims decreased. In line with our predictions based on an integration of aversive racism theory and arousal: cost-reward perspective on prosocial behavior, severe emergencies with Black victims elicited high levels of aversion from White helpers and these high levels of aversion were directly related to the slower help offered to Black but not White victims (Study 1). In addition, the bias was related to Whites' interpretation of the emergency as less severe and themselves as less responsible to help Black rather than White victims (Studies 2 & 3). Study 3 also illustrated that emergency racial bias is unique to White's responses to Black victims and not evinced by Black helpers.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
E. Ashby Plant, Professor Directing Thesis; Michael P. Kaschak, Committee Member; Jon Maner, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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