Thesis Advisor(s)

Colin W. Leach

Honors Major



Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology


This study investigated partisan differences, as well as guilt, anger, and shame as motivating emotions, to understand and predict information avoidance on topics related to race and policing. We predicted liberals would be more likely than conservatives to seek information on topics related to race; guilt, anger, and shame would be motivating emotions to seek information. We expected liberals to use guilt, anger, and shame as motivating emotions to seek information, and expected conservatives to experience lower levels of these emotions, and therefore avoid such information. Participants (N=420) were given information about police violence against people of color. Following this, participants completed the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule and finished by responding to an Information Avoidance questionnaire. Results showed that political orientation, anger, and shame had significant effects in predicting information avoidance (IA), while guilt had no significant effect. Anger and shame had a significant effect in motivating liberals to seek information, while guilt had a significant effect in motivating conservatives to avoid. These findings suggest that information about victims of racialized violence do not enact the same motivation response in conservatives as they do in liberals. Therefore, it is important to understand these implications when reaching consensus on the divergent viewpoints of racial injustices.