Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Donna Thomas


Despite significant advances toward equality, racism and discrimination have been a central feature of America’s culture. This inequality has been presented from the history of slavery to the present-day violence against unarmed Black men. Oppression and inequalities have led calls to action from the African American community and activist groups including the Black Lives Matter Movement. Many White individuals are unaware of the existing benefits of their Whiteness and are simultaneously unaware of the significant psychological, emotional, physical, and social consequences for African American individuals. While there are several established theories to address the psychological and social aspects of how individuals exhibit discriminatory thoughts and behaviors, they are often not comprehensive of both individual and social underpinnings. Self Determination Theory proposes that motivations vary not only in social environments or contexts, but also in the source provided within and for the individual. Within the theory, there are two forms of locus of causality including intrinsic and extrinsic which can vary on a continuum of regulations. While racism is manifested in many forms, literature indicates it has moved from an overt, explicit, form to a covert, sublet form. Limited studies have examined overt and covert behaviors on discrimination simultaneously. Likewise, society has shifted in culture to be more intentional with overt acts such as White nationalist “Unite the Right” march rally in Charlottesville, VA as well as deficiency in punishments for hate crimes and the attempt of reversal of civil rights and social justice policies. The purpose of this study is to examine racial discrimination at both covert and overt levels utilizing self-determination theory as the theoretical framework to explore regulatory motivations on a continuum when individuals are exhibiting discriminatory or prosocial behaviors. Latent profile analysis (LPA), a person-centered analysis, rather than a variable level analysis was utilized to categorize individuals into groups based on similar characteristics to examine how different each group of individuals differs on their motivations.