Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Grych, John

Second Advisor

Kaugars, Astrida

Third Advisor

Howard, Simon


Black, Latinx, and Indigenous adolescents experience more suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests than White students. However, minoritized students do not engage in problematic or disruptive behaviors more frequently but rather at equal or lower rates than their White counterparts. One factor that may contribute to this discipline gap is race essentialism, which is the belief that there are deep-rooted, unalterable traits and abilities unique to each racial group. Race essentialism, which has been linked to stereotyping, prejudice, intergroup trust and closeness, and cognitive flexibility, has not been studied in a school discipline context. Demonstrating associations between race essentialism and teachers’ beliefs and practices, such as discipline, empathy, and growth mindset, as well as their beliefs about working with minoritized students, may bridge the two fields of research. Therefore, the primary goals of the proposed study were to 1) examine the psychometric properties of a measure of race essentialism previously used in other contexts, and 2) using a vignette, investigate whether endorsement of racial essentialist views was related to preservice and practicing teachers’ beliefs and attitudes regarding equitable teaching and discipline practices. The third aim was to explore whether the manipulation of preservice teachers’ beliefs about race was associated with perceptions of diverse students and their discipline practices. Generally, the results provided evidence that race essentialism is related to educators’ perceptions of minoritized students’ misbehavior and their beliefs about these students more broadly.

Included in

Psychology Commons