Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Michael J. McClellan

Second Advisor

Jonathan S. Gore

Third Advisor

Theresa Botts

Abstract

Gains in ethnocultural empathy are one way to establish positive changes in social attitudes. The goal of the present study was to assess changes in ethnocultural empathy among students in a wide range of diversity courses. Preliminary data was collected from two groups of undergraduate students at a large, public university located in the Southeast (n = 47). Pre and post-test measures of ethnocultural empathy (EMC/RSEE) were completed by both the control group (i.e., undergraduate psychology students) and the experimental group (i.e., students enrolled in a diversity course). Post-test, qualitative data related to student perceptions and empathy was also collected and from the diversity course participants. I hypothesized that participants in the diversity course condition would see larger gains in ethnocultural empathy as noted by the quantitative and qualitative measures. A mixed groups factorial ANOVA was conducted for subscale scores (see Table 1). No significant differences between groups were found when comparing pre and post-test scores. However, demographic variables, such as discrimination acknowledgement and multiracial interaction, were positively related to ethnocultural empathy levels. Qualitative data supported several hypotheses. Specifically, most students, (84%) in the diversity condition, were better able to understand what life is like for people who are of a different background as it applies to social identity. Furthermore, most of these students (68%) were better able to understand the traditions and values of other cultures. Most students (68%) reported they were more likely to intervene if they witness someone making discriminating statements towards an individual because of their social identity. Limitations and future directions are discussed.

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