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The Confederate flag is a symbol rich with meaning. While public debate has focused largely on which perception of the Confederate flag is the most appropriate, it is equally important to understand the consequences of being exposed to this symbol. We predict that exposure to the Confederate flag is likely to lead individuals who associate the flag with racism to engage in more negative judgments of and behavior toward Black targets than peers not exposed to the flag. In contrast, those who view the flag as a symbol of the South should show little to no effect of exposure to the Confederate flag on judgment of and behavior toward Blacks. In study one, participants then made judgments of either a Black or a White male after reading a short story about him. For those who believe the flag is a symbol of racism, exposure to the Confederate flag increased negative judgments toward a Black person, compared to those who believe it is a symbol of the South and were exposed to the flag and those in both groups exposed to a neutral symbol. Study two served as a replication and extension in which we measured participants' aggression toward a purportedly Black or White partner through noise blast task. For those who believe the flag is a symbol of racism, being exposed to the Confederate flag increased aggression toward a Black person, compared to those who believe the flag is a symbol of the South and for those who had a White partner.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
Joyce Ehrlinger, Professor Directing Thesis; Ashby Plant, Committee Member; Chris Schatschneider, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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