Date of Award

Spring 2022

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts




Dr. Raghabendra KC

Committee Member

Dr. Richard Lewin

Committee Member

Dr. Sarah Parsloe


Previous marketing research has generally not examined how ethnic majority consumers perceive advertisements featuring mixed racial compositions of model groups. This paper presents an investigation into how White consumers’ perceptions and purchase intentions change depending on the racial composition of the people represented in an advertisement. The study uses a single 12-condition experiment, in which we examine the type of advertisement (product vs. social advocacy advertising), racial composition (all-White vs. diverse mix vs. all-Black), and racial priming effects (racially-primed vs. racially-neutral message). Additionally, consumers’ levels of self-referencing to the ad and strength of ethnic identification are explored as possible mediation variables. We find that for product advertisements, changes in racial composition affect White consumers’ purchase intentions under certain priming conditions but have no significant effects on attitudes toward the ad or brand. However, for social advocacy advertisements, Whites consistently show more favorable perceptions and purchase intentions for racially diverse or all-Black model compositions. The findings contribute to the literature on the effects of group racial perceptions in marketing communications and provide key implications for practitioners.

Rights Holder

Chung-Ting Wang