Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Kristin Sommer

Committee Members

Karen S. Lyness

Loren J. Naidoo

Harold J. Goldstein

Drew Allen

Subject Categories

Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Social Psychology


Though the representation of Black males within lower echelons of organizations has increased since the inception of Title VII (CRA 1964), Black males continue to be highly underrepresented in management-level roles (EEOC, 2015). The current study was developed to examine how social dominance orientation (SDO) among White males (Sidanius & Pratto, 1994) might disadvantage Black males attempting to advance into management jobs. Additionally, I evaluated the role of threat in contributing to discrimination against Black males by directly assessing threat responses among Organizational Decision Makers (ODM) using psychophysiological measures (i.e., cardiovascular responses). Male and female participants were recruited to participate in an employment interview simulation where they will be instructed to play the role of an interviewer. All participants were randomly assigned to interview a Black male candidate for an open position that varied in the amount of status and authority conferred by the job role. Specifically, one job role simulated an entry-level job (low status), whereas the other job role simulated a management role (high status). Participants were then asked to carry out the employment interview. Afterwards, participants evaluated the candidate and indicate the likelihood of selecting the candidate. Findings did not support the proposed hypotheses, but exploratory analyses revealed that a sub-dimension of SDO might play a more important role in predicting discrimination in the workplace. Specifically, the sub-dimension of SDO that capture a person’s level of anti-egalitarianism (SDO-AE) was found to predict cardiovascular threat. Furthermore, a marginal interaction effect between job status and SDO-AE was found, wherein SDO-AE was positively related to threat among those interviewing a Black candidate for the lower status role. However, no relationship between SDO-AE and threat was found among those interviewing a Black candidate for the higher status role. Finally, SDO-AE predicted lower ratings of Black candidates on characteristics that were subjective and less susceptible to verification. The theoretical implications of examining the sub-dimensions of SDO-AE were then discussed. This was followed by a discussion of the practical approaches for practitioners to implement in the service of minimizing racial discrimination in organizations. Finally, limitations of the study are discussed.