Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School


Committee Member

Rusty McIntyre, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Natalie Dove, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Stephen Jefferson, Ph.D.


This research sought to test the relation between video game avatars (online representations of the self), empathy, social dominance orientation, and prejudice. By having participants imagine playing in a game as an avatar I sought to test three hypotheses. Th first hypothesis proposed that that participants would be more inclined to support policies regarding a specific racial group when imagining play as an avatar representing that group. The second hypothesis proposed that empathy would influence the connection between the avatar and participant race variables. The third, which was split into three parts, tested for a negative correlation between prejudice and empathy, whether high levels of social dominance would suppress the beneficial effects of the counter-race avatar (specifically for White participants), and whether prejudicial judgments would be higher for participants high in social dominance orientation regardless of the race of participant or avatar condition. Participant prejudice and empathy were assessed with an empathy test from DeWall and Baumeister (2006) and the Social Dominance Orientation Scale. The hypothesis that high levels of social dominance would suppress the effect of the counter-race avatar was partially supported for positive assessments of race when controlling for social dominance orientation. Additionally, it was expected that White participants high in empathy would have stronger effects than White participants low in empathy or compared to participants of color and that social dominance orientation (SDO) would be negatively correlated with empathy. Results for empathy were not supported, however, the results for the association of SDO and prejudice were.

Included in

Psychology Commons