Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Jared B Kenworthy


The present studies examine the effect of psychological essentialism on the relationship between contact and attitudes with regard to religious outgroup members, specifically atheists. Although previous research has been conducted that examines the relationship between outgroup contact on prejudice reduction (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2000), the approach of the current studies examining the potential moderating effect of psychological essentialism offers a novel contribution to the field. While prejudice research is widely conducted today, studies that focus on religious prejudice and the issues that religious minorities face is comparatively sparse (Gervais, 2011). By using existing literature, I hypothesized that essentialism will moderate the relationship between contact with atheists and the attitudes that individuals hold toward members of the atheist outgroup. Though essentialism served as an effective moderator in some models, the results were not consistent. Additionally, essentialism was not able to be effectively manipulated using our approach, so any causal relationships were difficult to address. Further research is warranted at this time to determine a) the effectiveness of essentialism in moderating the relationship between contact and attitudes, and b) the ability to examine the causal effects of essentialism as both a moderator and predictor of outgroup attitudes.


Atheist, Prejudice, Outgroup, Religion, Intergroup contact, Contact theory


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Psychology Commons