Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Research on emotion communication demonstrates that people are more accurate at recognizing emotion when evaluating members of one’s racial ingroup compared to assessments made for outgroups. It is unclear what leads us to make erroneous outgroup judgments. Two factors may play a central role in this process: judges’ attentiveness to and knowledge about partners’ group-specific expressive behaviors. In this project, I tested moderators of people’s ability to accurately detect emotions during an in-person interaction when paired with a same- or other-race partner. Findings indicate that when playing a cooperative game, people are surprisingly adept at accurately judging outgroup emotions, but these assessments were susceptible to bias. Judges were generally highly attentive to outgroup partners’ expressivity, and this monitoring did not benefit judgment accuracy. Outgroup exposure predicted somewhat improved assessments, but the effects were inconsistent. Finally, people liked partners who they were able to judge more accurately, regardless of the racial makeup of the dyad. This research builds on prior work documenting miscommunication between racial groups by demonstrating that accurately judging others’ emotional experiences can be a complex process and being less attentive to or familiar with outgroup expressivity cues does not necessarily interfere with judges’ ability to form accurate assessments.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Tammy L. English

Committee Members

Hillary A. Elfenbein, Calvin K. Lai, Randy J. Larsen, Clara L. Wilkins,