Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

John Paul Wilson

Committee Member

Laura Lakusta

Committee Member

Peter Vietze


Race is a major source of bias in person perception. Decades of research have shown, for example, that non-Black perceivers tend to see Blacks as threatening (Hugenberg & Bodenhausen, 2003; Wilson, Rule, & Hugenberg, 2017), and that such threat stereotypes may feed into biased age judgements, such that Black adolescents are also judged to be older than same-aged White adolescents (Goff, Jackson, Di Leone, Culotta,& DiTomasso, 2014). Other work has examined possible consequences of such stereotypes. For example, some work has shown that Black children are perceived more as troublemakers than their White counterparts, and that teachers may be especially more likely to inflict harsher punishments to Black students even for small infractions (Okonofua & Eberhardt, 2015). I followed up on this work to explicitly examine the link between age perceptions and one component of troublemaking behavior: self-control. Participants viewed the faces of White and Black adolescents aged 12 to 18 and judged either the age of each target (a preliminary study) or the extent to which each target was likely able to exert self-control (the current thesis). I found that although perceivers showed a strong bias to judge the Black adolescents as older than the White adolescents, they did not ascribe Black targets more self-control. Furthermore, confirming the primary hypothesis, the positive correlation between perceived age and perceived self-control was much stronger for White targets than Black targets. The results suggest that although people may see Black adolescents as older than White adolescents, these adolescents may not benefit from other related perceptions that come along with perceived age and maturity. I discuss the implications of these findings for stereotyping and teacher-student interactions.

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Psychology Commons