Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



First Adviser

Packer, Dominic J.


Institutions can be powerful source of trust production, allowing for members of minority groups to engage in cooperative intergroup interactions without fear of betrayal or harm. However, institutional bias can lead minorities to become less trusting of institutions, ultimately causing them to rely less on institutions to facilitate successful interactions. The purpose of the present research is to examine the downstream consequences of the lack of institutional trust as a function of institutional bias: how does lack of institutional bias impact disadvantaged group members’ choices during day-to-day social interactions, specifically with regards to who they choose to interact with? I hypothesized that minority group members will be more likely to rely on characteristic-based or group identity a form of trust production leading them to be more likely to associate with ingroup members as a function of the presence of institutional bias. This hypothesis was tested in two sets of studies. The first set of studies relied upon survey data and revealed that the more Black Americans believed that institutions were biased, the more they distrusted those institutions and the more they preferred contact with racial ingroup members. In the second set of studies, an experiment using minimal groups revealed that, contrary to hypotheses, institutional bias predicted led to an increased preference for outgroup members. Implications of the two sets of studies are discussed.

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