MA Community Psychology Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Community Psychology, MA



First Advisor

Bryant Carlson


This study explored how accurate people’s perceptions of racism are compared to the reality of experiences of racism and how social context influences those perceptions, specifically looking at the variables race, highest level of education, socioeconomic status, racial identity relevance, and neighborhood intergroup contact. The research design followed Graham, Nosek, and Haidt’s (2012) quantitative model. Participants were randomly assigned to complete two out of three possible surveys: Landrine, Klonoff, Corral, Fernandez, and Roesch’s (2006) General Ethnic Discrimination Scale (GEDS) answered as oneself, answered as a “typical white person,” or answered as a “typical person of color.” Participants also responded to measures on the other social context variables to allow for an analysis of how the social context factors influenced people’s perceptions of racism as a problem. Due to a sample that was not fully representative of non-white participants, conclusions were only discussed for white participants. Thirty-five percent of white participants predicted people of color are never treated unfairly because of their race, and that perception was influenced exclusively by whiteness. Eighteen percent of white participants predicted that white people are treated unfairly because of their race, and both whiteness and level of education influenced that perception.