Date of Original Version

Spring 2016



Abstract or Description

This Senior Honors Thesis, from the departments of Psychology, Photography, and Design, is an examination of the role of prejudices in the subjective interpretation of photographs. The misunderstanding of individuals, groups, and cultures is crucial to address in today‟s increasingly interconnected world. Grounded in the social cognitive theory, the categorization of stimuli is an important cognitive process that enables human functioning but becomes problematic when applied to the categorizations of humans, resulting in stereotyping that are overgeneralizations and often inaccurate understanding of ingroup and outgroup members. By examining images to firstly recognize stereotype-grounded interpretations, secondly probe to learn more about what is occurring in the photographs, and lastly compare these outcomes with actual occurrences of images, people can become more cognizant of the discrepancies between judgments and reality. This work draws from social psychology principles and is strengthened by photo research method tools like photovoice, as well as observations in the work of photographers, archival studies, and media outlets. Additionally, this thesis draws further support through the analysis of interpretations of novel documentary photographs of Tamil Nadu, India. Overall, this work argues that the ability for photographs to serve as portals to diverse people and places presents as a unique tool to address the necessary shortages in cultural sensitivity and competency.


Advisor: Charlee Brodsky

Department of Psychology

Embargo Date