Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Suejung Han

Second Advisor

Matthew Hesson-McInnis


Investigations into the perceptual impacts of priming a sense of attachment security have found that it improves emotional processing of attachment-related threat stimuli (Bai et al., 2019; Tang et al., 2017); however, no connections have been drawn for how those perceptual impacts effect the perception of ingroup and outgroup faces and whether there is potential for heightened attachment security to positively impact the way we perceive outgroup faces. Through multidimensional scaling (nMDS), I investigated how security priming influenced the other-race effect (the tendency to have increased processing only for same-race faces) and hypodescent (categorizing an ambiguous-race face as the minority race), while considering racial essentialism (rigid and biologically-based conceptions of race) as a potential moderator. One-hundred fifty participants (70% White) were explicitly and subliminally primed in separate online sessions, then their implicit methods of categorization for Black, White, and racially ambiguous faces were gauged through 200 trials of similarity ratings. An analysis of the dimensions produced from the nMDS revealed that for all participants, regardless of ethnicity, the other-race effect was pervasive for Black faces and participants relied twice as strongly on a race dimension to make category judgements. Neither secure attachment priming nor racial essentialism impacted implicit perceptual structures directly, and heightened security did not reduce hypodescent of ambiguous-race faces or racial essentialism. Higher racial essentialism predicted less individuation in the perceived race of Black faces, but it did not predict hypodescent of ambiguous-race faces. Supplementary analyses revealed the need for additional research into the interactions between security priming, ethnicity, and ingroup identification, as security priming tended to increase hypodescent in non-White participants and decrease individuation for those high in White ingroup identification. In conclusion, the repeated attachment security prime in this study failed to mitigate the processing biases of outgroup-race faces, and additional testing is required before considering implementing security priming in scenarios where outgroup-race face processing is crucial, such as in eye-witness identification duties.


Imported from Hart_ilstu_0092N_12023.pdf


3Dplot.mp4 (356 kB)

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