Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Michele G. Alexander

Second Committee Member

Joel A. Gold

Third Committee Member

Richard M. Ryckrnan


This dissertation examines the role of language in social contexts. Specifically, two experiments were designed to extend our understanding of the Linguistic Intergroup Bias (LIB) by elucidating its effects on stereotype application and social behavior. The LIB is the tendency to describe positive in-group and negative out-group behaviors more abstractly than negative in-group and positive out-group behaviors. The first experiment examined the extent to which the LIB augments intergroup categories and perpetuates stereotype use. When asked to match positive and negative behavioral descriptions written at different levels of abstraction to in-group and out-group faces, participants tended to categorize abstract negative behaviors with out-group faces, particularly Asian and Elderly faces. The second experiment examined the propensity for the language of the LIB to lead to behavioral confirmation during interpersonal interaction. Interaction partners depicted in positive or negative and abstract or concrete terms had only a slight effect on participants' perceptions and partners' behaviors. Altogether, the LIB appears to augment stereotypes but, taken out of the group context, does not clearly confirm negative behavior. The implications of these studies for theory and practice are discussed.

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