Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

John Skvoretz, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Aranda, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carla Goar, Ph.D.


Color-blind Racism, Gender-blind Sexism, Intersectionality, Partner-Selection, Social Psychology-Competency, Stereotypes


This dissertation addresses the importance of studying how race and gender influence partner selection processes of team formation. Stratified social systems influence the choice and decision-making behaviors that shape group and team formation (Hechter 1978). By testing Skvoretz’s and Bailey’s (2016) formal theory of team formation choice processes derived from expectation states theory, the dissertation aims to understand how race and gender influence a person’s choice and decision-making with respect to forming a group of problem-solving teammates. Through a quasi-experimental research design, subjects participate in simulated interactive environments in which they can select and personalize self-represented avatars and then choose potential team members from a pool of racially and gender diverse avatars. Moreover, through content analysis, this study qualitatively examines how participants justify their selections without knowing each avatar’s competency.

The critical examination of race and gender in this study challenges and extends conventional social psychological literature that does not sufficiently consider the importance of race, along with its intersections with gender, as vital structural forces on group processes and interpersonal stratification (Hunt et al 2013). Three prominent findings emerge from the study. First, contrary to the theoretical predictions by Skvoretz and Bailey (2016), race differences in choice of teammate are common, gender differences are rare, but intersectional effects exist. Second, statistical analyses support an alternative interpretation of the status structure of the problem in which women rather than men are assigned the high state on the gender dimension when it comes to choosing teammates. Third, the qualitative findings show racial and gendered stereotypes are implicitly integrated into ideas about how appearance shapes competence and teamwork. The data show that stereotyping is not simply an attributional process of traits, but also a process of attributing narrative stories to a person based on demeanor and affect.