The Effects of Christian Religious Imagery on Anti-Black Attitudes
Abstract: Across five experiments, I explore the relationship between
religiosity—in particular, White religious iconography—and anti-Black attitudes, assessing
the potential causality underlying this association through the use of a priming
manipulation among both White (Experiments 1, 2a-2b, 3) and Black individuals (Experiment
4). Recent studies have found that activating religious concepts... read morevia priming techniques can
increase anti-Black attitudes. To date, however, no research has examined whether priming
religious images rather than words leads to similar effects, or whether activation of
different components of religiosity (e.g., religious cognitions vs. supernatural agent
cognitions) produces comparable patterns of anti-Black prejudice. This dissertation
examined these questions, as well as whether such effects depend on the racial depiction of
a supernatural agent (i.e., White Jesus vs. Black Jesus). Three out of five experiments
provide evidence that exposure to Christian religious imagery—specifically subliminal
exposure to images of Jesus Christ depicted as White—leads both White (Experiments 2a, 3)
and Black individuals (Experiment 4) to express greater racial bias against Blacks. The
observed increase in Whites' and Blacks' anti-Black attitudes from exposure to White Jesus
remained significant even when controlling for participants' self-reported religiosity.
Furthermore, the increase in White and Black individuals' bias seems to be due to exposure
to White religious iconography and not simply exposure to White male figures more generally
(Experiments 3 and 4), highlighting the qualitative difference of White religious
supernatural agents and non-supernatural White agents. The present findings add to our
understanding of the complex relationship between religiosity and anti-Black attitudes,
while also identifying additional research questions for future
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2016.
Submitted to the Dept. of Psychology.
Advisor: Samuel Sommers.
Committee: Keith Maddox, Jessica Remedios, and Michael Norton.
Keywords: Social psychology, Psychology, and Religion.read less