Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Piercarlo Valdesolo

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2016 Daniel J. Schmidt


The current study explores the interactions of cognitive load and stereotypes on emotions felt toward stereotyped groups and decisions of punitiveness for a crime. Dual processing models suggest that cognitive load can decrease deliberation and increase intuitive and emotional judgments. The Stereotype Content Model suggests that different stereotyped groups evoke different emotions. The current study tested the hypothesis that individuals under high cognitive load will be more likely to rely on stereotypical information and associated emotions when making decisions on punishment for a crime. Study 1 had 205 participants from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk website complete an online survey in which they read a vignette about an elderly man, a man who receives welfare checks, or a neutrally described man, who commits a “hit and run” crime. Half of the participants were then put under cognitive load, and all participants completed questions on punitiveness for the character’s crime, emotions felt towards the character, and perceptions of warmth and competence in the character. Study 2 repeated the manipulations and measures of study 1 with a few changes and in a college lab setting. Results were inconclusive in both studies and the null hypothesis was retained. Methodological and theoretical reasons for these results are discussed.