Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Albert J. Lott


Research has suggested that racial differences act to influence decision making associated with the selection of individuals on some social dimension such as friend, work partner, or roommate. However, there is also evidence that when one has information impacted regarding the similarity or dissimilarity of an individual being selected on some social dimension, the importance of the racial differences, as criteria for selection, decreases. The present study investigated the comparative effects of race and attitude similarity on the information-seeking behavior of subjects who had as their task the selection of potential roommates.

In this study white male undergraduates from the University of Rhode Island were given the opportunity to select potential roommates of four types: white - similar; white - dissimilar; black – similar; and black- dissimilar. An attitude measure was given to subjects four weeks before the selection procedure and, using subject responses, attitude protocols for potential roommates were created to appear as similar or dissimilar. A photograph was used to present the race variable. The photograph and each item on the attitude questionnaire were placed in separate envelopes and subjects were allowed. to seek freely as much information (item-by-item) as they required in order to make a comfortable decision about accepting or rejecting the potential roommates. The amount of information used for each condition was analyzed u sing a 2x2 factorial ANOVA. It was hypothesized that both the race and similarity of the Potential roommates should have an effect on information-seeking behavior and that there would be an interactive effect.

The results supported the hypothesis that the similarity of a potential roommate significantly affected the information-seeking behavior of the subjects. Information-seeking behavior was not significantly affected by the race variable nor was there a significant interaction effect between race and similarity.



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