Date of Original Version




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Abstract or Description

It was hypothesized that expressions of happiness within same-race dyads
(consisting of two Caucasian students or two Asian students) would be perceived as more
authentic than would expressions of happiness within mixed race dyads. The rationale
was that expressions of happiness received from a member of a different race might be
perceived as driven by politeness and a desire not to appear racially biased. Thus they
might be discounted as evidence of true happiness. Such discounting was not expected to
occur when expressions of happiness were received from a same race partner. These
hypotheses were tested in two studies. In the first study, participants read a scripted
interaction between pairs of Asian students, pairs of Caucasian students, or mixed pairs
and judged the extent to which expressed happiness likely reflected true happiness. In a
second study, participants actually participated in a five-minute videotaped interaction
with a participant of the same race or with a participant of a different race. Later, in
private, they indicated how much happiness they and their partner expressed, how much
happiness they actually experienced in the interaction, and how much happiness they
believed their partner experienced. Neither study yielded clear support for the original
hypotheses. However, the second study did yield some compelling results relevant to
perceptions of expressed and felt happiness. Specifically, participants consistently
reported that: a) They, themselves, felt more happiness than they expressed (i.e. they
suppressed happiness); b) In contrast, they reported that their partner expressed more
happiness than that partner actually felt (i.e. they believed the partner was exaggerating
happiness); and c) Whereas these results were evident for both Asians and Caucasians,
there was a significant interaction such that these tendencies were more pronounced


Advisor: Margaret Clark

Department of Psychology