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Alternative title

An Investigation of Promotion-oriented Motivators Underlying Interracial Interactions

Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation

Experimental Psychology

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Lemm, Kristi M., 1971-

Second Advisor

McLean, Kate C.

Third Advisor

Gonzalez, Antonya


Avoidant-based processes motivate the inhibition of prejudiced responding; however, approach-based responding can lead to more positive experiences within interracial interactions. Research has delineated the intrapersonal mechanisms that influence avoidant behavior in relation to prejudice and nonprejudiced values, yet the same exploration has not been observed among the psychological motivators of approach-oriented behaviors. As such, the purpose of the current research was to test the intrapersonal mechanisms that influence Whites’ use of approach behaviors during interracial interactions. Drawing upon regulatory focus theory and prejudice-discrepancy based models, we hypothesized that (1) chronic motivations to avoid negative outcomes (prevention focus) would stimulate avoidant responses following prejudice self-discrepancies and (2) chronic motivations to pursue positive outcomes (promotion focus) would stimulate approach behavior following egalitarian self-congruencies. In Study 1, participants were induced to feel close to or distant from their nonprejudiced or egalitarian values. Violations of nonprejudiced values were hypothesized to produce agitation among participants with high levels of prevention focus and successful displays of egalitarian values were predicted to produce cheerfulness among participants with high levels of promotion focus. In Study 2, using a different manipulation, prevention components (prevention focus, prejudice discrepancies, and agitation) were hypothesized to influence avoidant behavior and promotion components (promotion focus, egalitarian congruencies, and cheerfulness) were hypothesized to influence approach behavior. We found that promotion focus directly predicted approach behavior whereas prevention focus predicted avoidant behavior only following a prejudice discrepancy. Implications for the distinct motivational processes underlying behavior during interracial interactions are discussed.




interracial interactions, regulatory focus, egalitarianism, motivation


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Race relations--Psychological aspects; Regulatory focus (Psychology); Avoidance (Psychology)--United States; Equality--United States

Geographic Coverage

United States




masters theses




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