Term of Award

Spring 2024

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Amy Hackney

Committee Member 1

Michael Nielsen

Committee Member 2

Meca Williams-Johnson


Perceptions of intergroup threat correlate with prejudice against Black Americans (Iyer, 2022). For example, White Americans tend to move out of communities they dominate when the population of Black Americans increases in those communities beyond a “tolerable” rate due to a perceived threat to the neighborhood's safety and resources; this phenomenon is known as White Flight (Grodzins, 1958; Zou & Cheryan, 2022). This exodus of White Americans predicts urban decay, which affects the public school systems in those areas, leading to poorer public services and higher dropout rates among those in the now racially segregated neighborhoods (Mayer & Jencks, 1989; Schneider & Logan, 1985). The present study tests comfortability of racial diversity through a school choice task and assesses its relation with perceived threat in an educational context. Parents or prospective parents viewed pictures of groups of elementary school students ranging from a group of 100 % Black children to a group of 100% White children and selected the group image that represents the racial composition of the school they are most comfortable with their child attending. Perceived threat was assessed through an open response item and racial bias was assessed through an explicit racial beliefs questionnaire. The final sample included 79 White participants and 44 Black Participants of which 54 were parents. Findings showed White participants tended to choose schools where their child would be in the majority, consistent with prior research on School Choice preferences. Both White and Black participants generally favored schools where their racial group comprised 60% of the student body, with the other race making up the remaining 40%. Correlation analyses revealed a small correlation between racial beliefs about Black and White students and School Choice among White participants. Factors like race and ingroup favoritism may be more indicative of overall School Choice.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material