Date of Award

Summer 8-19-2022

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Mollie Ruben

Second Committee Member

Jordan LaBouff

Third Committee Member

Lily Herakova


How might the typical white perceiver behave while interviewing with a Black manager who puts her hands on her hips when she speaks? Would they act uncomfortable and anxious, leaning away from her? Would they engage with her and smile more? Lastly, would they react differently if the manager was a white man or a Black man? Even though it is known that Black people in expansive positions are perceived more negatively than white people in expansive positions, there has yet to be an observation of white people’s nonverbal behavior in interactions with Black and white individuals in different body positions (Karmali, 2019). White undergraduates from the University of Maine completed a recorded Zoom mock interview with a supposed interviewer (target) whose Zoom photograph differed by race (Black vs. white), gender (male vs. female), and body positioning (expansive vs. restrictive). Participants' impressions of the interviewer and attitudes toward race via the Modern Racism Scale (McConahay, 1986) were collected, and I coded participant’s nonverbal immediacy behavior during the interview. I first hypothesized that participants would show less nonverbal immediacy and positivity toward Black men in restrictive positions, white women in restrictive positions, and white men in expansive positions than all other groups. I also hypothesized that participants would rate white interviewers more positively overall, but among Black interviewers, participants would rate Black women the least positively and participants who interviewed with white interviewers would act more positively overall, but among Black interviewers, those who interviewed with Black men in expansive positions would act the least positively than all other Black interviewers. Lastly, I hypothesized that more negative racial attitudes, as evidenced by participants’ scores on the Modern Racism Scale (McConahay, 1986), would be negatively correlated with their nonverbal immediacy behavior, global positivity, and their positive ratings of the Black interviewer. This research expands our understanding of how to effectively tailor DEI initiatives that foster positive attitudes toward Black people in power.

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Psychology Commons