Date of Award

Fall 2019

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

William Crano

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Eusebio Alvaro

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Jorge Barraza

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Antonis Gardikiotis

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2019 Ricardo Mendoza Lepe


Attitudes, Intergroup discrimination, Stories, Transportation, Undocumented Latinx Immigrants

Subject Categories

Social Psychology


A growing body of research in social psychology focuses on ameliorating intergroup discrimination. A substantial amount of this work originates from the contact hypothesis (Allport, 1954). However, many indirect contact studies utilize stories as interventions or cite other studies that use stories. The work in narrative psychology shows that stories provide consumers the opportunity to rehearse intergroup interactions (Oatley, 1999), induce empathy that allows for understanding and feeling the experiences of others (Van Laer et al., 2014), and provide mental experiences felt as if truly occurring (i.e., transportation; Green & Brock, 2000, 2002). Two focal questions of the current research are whether stories and their processes are already effective in reducing intergroup discrimination and whether stories and indirect contact strategies might overlap. The current study explored the effectiveness of stories in reducing different aspects of discrimination (i.e., behaviors, attitudes, and perceptions) towards both undocumented Latinx immigrants (i.e., a group) and to an undocumented Latina immigrant (i.e., an individual), while testing transportation as a driver of the effect. This between subjects design compared three stories including A) a story with somatosensory cues (i.e., in-depth physiological descriptions of the experience of an undocumented Latina immigrant, non-DACA recipient), B) the same story without somatosensory cues, and C) positive statistics and facts about immigrant’s contributions to the US, as a comparison group. The hypotheses tested included: First, the effectiveness of stories in inducing transportation, influencing monetary donations to an immigrant fund, increasing ratings of warmth and competence, and inducing more positive attitudes, compared to the provision of supportive statistics. Second, the effectiveness of the enhanced stories, over statistics, in inducing transportation, donations, increasing ratings of warmth and competence, and in inducing more positive attitudes. Third, the effectiveness of the enhanced story, over the non-enhanced story, in inducing transportation, donations, increasing ratings of warmth and competence, and in inducing more positive attitudes to the character of the story. Finally, whether transportation would moderate the relationship between the clip condition and donations, ratings and warmth and competence, and attitudes to the central character’s membership group—undocumented Latinx immigrants. These hypotheses were tested on a sample of MTurk workers (N= 572) over the age of 18 found in states with an overall population of Latinx below five percent. The results confirmed that individuals in story conditions did undergo more transportation and had higher average donations, but these did not differ in ratings of warmth and competence, or attitudes to undocumented Latinx immigrants. Regarding the character, participants in the enhanced story condition rated her as more competent and less negatively than those in non-enhanced story condition, while also rating her low in warmth. Finally, one moderation analysis showed that respondents in story conditions reported more positive attitudes towards undocumented Latinx immigrants only if they were more transported. Together, these results, indicate that stories could be effective in increasing positive attitudes towards groups that are targets of vitriol, and more importantly that a story process such as transportation may play a role in this positive attitude induction.