Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Linda Stanhope




race, participants, black, reputation


Previous research is inconclusive as to whether racial biases are prominent in elementary school children and whether gender influences the children’s perceptions of a bullying situation. Since both bullying and racial discrimination are of increased concern, I investigated how children perceive ambiguous situations that could be considered deliberate bullying or an accident, as a function of the gender, race, and reputation of the potential bully. Participants were asked to read three brief scenarios, each accompanied by a picture of the potential bully, and completed a questionnaire regarding how positive they would rate the actor, how negative they would rate the actor, and how likely the would say the actor was an actual bully. The scenarios involved ambiguous bullying or helping behaviors, and the pictures varied among participants according to race and gender. I hypothesized that participants would be more likely to perceive the actor negatively and as a bully when the actor was a boy compared to a girl, the actor was Black compared to White, and when the actor had a bad reputation compared to a good reputation. Results showed no significant differences as a factor of the potential bully’s gender or race. There was a significant effect of reputation, such that participants were more likely to report negative traits about the actor and more likely to consider them an actual bully if they had a bad reputation. There was an interesting but non-significant trend in the interaction between race and reputation. Implications for intervention techniques are discussed.