USF St. Petersburg campus Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate)


The effect of Terror Managment and racism on Response Latencies for Racial Categorization Tasks.


James R. Porter

First Advisor

Mark V. Pezzo, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Vanessa Hilliard, Ph.D.


University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Document Type


Date Available

April 2012

Publication Date


Date Issued

July 2002


This study attempted to replicate Blascovich et al. (1997), who found that racist individuals take longer to classify racially ambiguous photographs. Participants were asked either to consider their own death, or to think about television. Although the overall effect of mortality salience had no effect, those participants scoring low on two racism questionnaires and who thought about their own death had significantly longer classification times RT's for racially ambiguous targets. This finding is consistent with the idea that mortality salience increased the motive for accuracy in non-racist individuals, but had little effect on racist individuals (Castano et al, 2002). The latter group appeared to be driven by an "outclassification" motive in which they quickly classified anyone who was ambiguous as black, with relatively little regard for accuracy. There was no difference between racists and non-racists in the television control condition. The results in the control condition failed to replicate the research of Blascovich et al. (1997) or of Castano et al. (2002), but mortality salience produced results similar to that of Castano et al. (2002).


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Honors Program, University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

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