Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Political Science

First Advisor

David Darmofal


Racial discrimination, though more subtle than in the past, is still an enduring presence in 21st century America. Whether looking at education, health care, the workforce, housing/lending practices, or the criminal justice system, studies routinely confirm that racial prejudice and discrimination persist despite claims of a “post-racial” America. Yet, despite the perseverance of racial prejudice and discrimination, policies correcting racial injustice remain contentious, either failing to receive the requisite support to pass reforms or receiving backlash from the public. This project explores meta-stereotypes in the Black and white communities, and highlights meta-stereotypes’ potential impact when determining why some individuals support those types of policies while other individuals oppose them. Meta-stereotypes are essentially stereotypes of stereotypes; they assess how pervasive an individual believes specific stereotypes are. Using an original survey experiment, this study investigates whether meta-stereotypes act as a causal mechanism, dictating individuals’ policy preferences regarding two issue areas related, whether directly or indirectly, to discussions of racial prejudice and discrimination: affirmative action and criminal justice reforms. Additionally, by exploring individuals’ meta-stereotypes as both an abstract concept, and also as a more concrete, real-world concept, by way of hypothetical scenarios, this dissertation project aims to determine whether meta-stereotypes alone are enough to impact racial policy preferences, or whether individuals need to have those meta-stereotypes activated and/or linked to real-world scenarios, thus providing guidance to racial justice advocates trying to gain allies and overcome complacency or opposition.


© 2014, Alexandra Reckendorf