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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Zachary W. Brewster


Extant social science research has identified organizations as a salient context wherein Black Americans, in particular, continue to experience discriminatory treatment. Much of this research has been centered on employers’ predilections to privilege White employees over their Black counterparts when making hiring and promotion decisions. Extant research has also underscored the role that coworkers play in creating workplace cultures that are experienced by Black employees as racially hostile. However, studies centered on consumers as the perpetrators of racial discrimination in the workplace are surprisingly scarce. In response, this study aims to assess whether, and under what conditions, restaurant patrons’ evaluate Black servers differently (e.g., more punitively) than comparable White servers. To explore my research questions, I collected survey data from 1,181 Amazon M-Turk workers who reside in the United States. These participants were asked to read a hypothetical dining vignette wherein servers’ race (Black/White), gender (male/female), and service quality (poor/average/excellent) were randomly manipulated. Following the vignette, participants were asked a series of questions designed to solicit information about their perceptions of and likely reactions to the service encounter portrayed in the vignette. These questions were used to construct four independent measures of consumer appraisals of the hypothetical dining experience—likelihood of being satisfied, leaving a tip, lodging a complaint, and expressing hostility. While consumers’ appraisals of the hypothetical service encounter were found to be sensitive the service quality manipulation in a predicable fashion (e.g., service quality was predictive of greater satisfaction, bigger tip, etc.) I find little evidence to suggest that consumers evaluate Black servers more punitively than comparable White servers. In addition to discussing my results, the applied and theoretical implications of this project’s findings will be delineated in this manuscript.

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