Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Dr. Bernadette Park

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert D. Rupert

Third Advisor

Dr. Angela Bryan


Psychological essentialism is defined as the tendency to view entities as if they have an underlying, and often invisible, essence that makes them what they are (Medin & Ortony, 1989) and these essentialist conceptions about a group can be heightened when there is an assumed biological basis to group membership (Dar-Nimrod & Heine, 2011). The present study addresses this concept and asks whether or not essentialist perceptions of fathers can be manipulated when participants are shown the biological changes that occur when men become fathers. It was hypothesized that (1) on average, mothers would be essentialized more than fathers, (2) the difference in essentialism ratings between mothers and fathers within each of the four conditions would follow a linear trend, and (3), participants in the conditions that focused on fathers would support work-related policies that affect parents more than the other conditions. The current study was able to confirm all three of these hypotheses and goes onto further discuss what these findings mean in a real-world setting.