Date of Graduation

Spring 2020


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Adena Young


Negative views regarding diversity can lead to bullying, decreased empathy, and overall detrimental academic and social environments. The aim of this study was to implement and evaluate diversity workshops designed to raise awareness about and illuminate barriers among middle school children that manufacture from real and/or perceived differences. These workshops utilized activities that fostered communication between students about diversity but also the commonalities among themselves. A goal of the discussions was to prevent issues associated with infrequent peer group intermingling, because infrequent contact can result in diminished empathy, unmet basic needs, and reduced effectiveness of contact hypothesis. Specifically, the design of workshops was to promote positive views about diversity, celebrate group differences, and highlight the respect and acceptance of individual differences. Researchers analyzed pre- and post-surveys to determine whether workshops changed diversity attitudes of students and reduced victimization/aggression. The analysis included examination of the basic needs (i.e., autonomy, competence, relatedness) to determine possible relationships with core diversity influences (i.e., bullying/aggression) and overall diversity perceptions. While no differences in basic psychological needs scores existed, basic psychological needs did predict diversity perceptions and aggression. Findings encourage future empirical research about the role of psychological needs in relation to diversity attitudes and perceptions.


diversity, bullying, victimization, basic psychological needs, Self-Determination Theory, Contact Hypothesis, stereotype

Subject Categories

Social Psychology


© Taylor S. Smith

Open Access