Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology



First Advisor

Stefan E. Schulenberg

Second Advisor

Michael Allen

Third Advisor

Laura R. Johnson

Relational Format



The purpose of the present study was to explore the role of meaning in life in automatic stereotyping in White individuals with respect to African Americans. The study aimed to establish whether meaning in life predicted automatic stereotyping even when controlling for self-esteem, a variable suggested to be a moderator of stereotyping. To assess these variables a number of tasks or measures were administered. The Person Categorization Task was employed as a measure of automatic stereotyping, the Purpose in Life test - Short Form (PIL-SF) was given as a measure of perceived meaning in life, and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSS) was administered as a measure of global self-esteem. The study was conducted with 110 White college students (64 females and 46 males) from a medium-sized university located in the southern United States. The average age of the participants was 18.98 years old (SD age = 1.49). The results of the study's initial analyses did not yield a statistically significant association between meaning in life and negative automatic stereotyping. Self-esteem was also not significantly associated with negative automatic stereotyping. The regression model with meaning and self-esteem as predictors of negative automatic stereotyping was not significant, with meaning and self-esteem not predictive of lower levels of automatic stereotyping to a statistically significant degree. Median-split analyses partially supported a significant correlation between perceived meaning in life and negative automatic stereotyping for participants with low negative automatic stereotyping. The implications of the findings are discussed in light of the study limitations. Future recommendations are also offered.


Emphasis: Clinical Psychology

Included in

Psychology Commons



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