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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Brandon Ng

Second Advisor

Dr. Cindy Bukach


Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, xenophobic rhetoric has been on the rise and there has been an uptick in anti-Asian prejudice, discrimination, and hate crimes. Considering a theoretical background on perceived threat, the present study seeks to experimentally determine if xenophobic rhetoric and political leaning increase prejudice and discrimination toward Asians, and whether any prejudice/discrimination would generalize to other racial outgroups. Participants were assigned to read either a neutral or xenophobic article about COVID-19, and subsequently rate their agreement with several attitude and policy measures, as well as allocate COVID resources in a hypothetical decision-making task. Overall, conservatives showed significantly greater prejudice and allocated significantly less resources to Asian recipients, in comparison to liberals. While we found no significant main effects for rhetoric, we did find significant and marginal interaction effects for rhetoric and political leaning on several attitude measures. Rhetoric had unexpected and opposite effects on conservatives and liberals, such that conservatives exposed to xenophobic rhetoric expressed significantly more positive attitudes toward Asians and lower agreement with xenophobic policies than conservatives exposed to neutral rhetoric. Liberals exposed to xenophobic rhetoric expressed marginally more agreement with xenophobic policies than liberals exposed to neutral rhetoric. Results found some support for an overall specific anti-Asian bias that does not generalize to other racial outgroups. Implications for rhetoric use in the media and awareness of prejudice in the medical sphere are discussed.

Available for download on Sunday, June 02, 2024