Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Sinclair, C. Hillary

Committee Member

Giesen, Martin J.

Committee Member

Jacquin, M. Kristine

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

MSU Only Indefinitely

Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Campus Access Only



Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Psychology


Prototype theory states that people have certain expectations when it comes to perpetrators and victims of acts of discrimination. A scenario was developed wherein victim type, severity of assault, assault location, and victim-perpetrator relationship were varied. The perception of bias as a motive and the labeling of the scenario as a hate crime were significantly affected by the independent variables. Scenarios featuring an African American victim were more likely to be labeled as a hate crime than those targeting a non-minority woman. Other factors that resulted in an increased application of the hate crime label were a) the attack was committed by a stranger, b) the attack was more severe, and c) the attack occurred following a political meeting instead of a college class. Overall this study showed that participants did not perceive crimes committed against women to be hate crimes unless that woman was of prototypical minority.