Understanding attitudes toward Affirmative Action: The role of policy framing, meritocracy beliefs and group-image guilt

Open Access
Bhatt, Anjali Gaurang
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Kisha Jones, Thesis Supervisor
  • Kenneth Levy, Honors Advisor
  • affirmative action
  • psychology
  • meritocracy
  • group-image guilt
  • self-images
Attitudes toward Affirmative Action Programs (AAP) can be affected by the perceiver’s characteristics as well as the program framing. Self-enhancement theory has been shown to provide a framework for understanding why non-beneficiaries of AAPs react to the program in a certain manner, supporting the idea that the participant’s positive self-images were negated as a result of program framing. This study sought to understand the relationship perceiver’s belief in meritocracy (i.e., the principle that achievements should be earned), endorsement of group-image guilt (i.e., negativity based off of an association with an advantaged racial group), and policy framing in explaining self-images and attitudes toward AAPs. It was hypothesized that policy framing would interact with both belief in meritocracy and group-image guilt to predict self-images and attitudes toward AAPs. These hypotheses were not supported as no significant interactions were found. However, there was a significant main effect of belief in meritocracy on performance self-images and of group-image guilt on self-images (performance and social) and attitudes toward AAPs. Practical implications and future directions for research are discussed.