Date of Award

Summer 1997

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)




Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology

Committee Director

Ellen F. Rosen

Committee Member

Delanyard Robinson

Committee Member

Harold Conley

Committee Member

Ronald Thomas

Committee Member

Joy Kannarkat


This study compared the psychophysiological reactivity of African American and European American males to authority. Nineteen African American males and 23 European American males were randomly assigned to either be interrogated by a police officer, or see a police officer interrogate that experimenter or view a videotape of police activity. Participants' physiological reactivity, acceptance of authority, fear of negative evaluation or social anxiety, and apprehension and anxiety in stressful situations as well as EMG, SCR, heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure were measured. African American males were hypothesized to show greater physiological response than European American males and participants who scored highly on each of the three measures to demonstrate more intense physiological responses. Data were analyzed with separate (race by treatment by time period) analyses of variance. A race x time period interaction occurred: African American male undergraduates exhibited greater increases in blood pressure and heart rate reactivity and took longer to return to baseline following presentation of stimuli than European American males in corresponding treatment groups.


A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculties of The College of William and Mary, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology through the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology.


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