In a replication and extension of “border bias” research conducted by Mishra and Mishra (2010) and Molloy and colleagues (2012; 2013), who found that mapped threats within state borders were judged to be a greater risk than equidistant out of state threats, the effects of color (added to indicate zones of potential exposure) and a “double border” (on maps and in the lab) were measured. Support was found for border bias in that state boundaries appeared to influence risk perception. As hypothesized, there was also a significant effect for color boundaries, and participants avoided a location shown at an equidistant location, but on both a state and color border (a “double border”). Further evidence for the perceived vulnerability of a “double border” was demonstrated by participants’ choice of seating in the psychology lab, where they arrived to find “contaminants” (e.g., rumpled tissues) on the tables and limited chairs from which to select. Participants prefer seats nearer to a single contaminant over seats equidistant from two contaminants on a double border.

Note on the Author

Sarah Gardiner is a graduating senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Special Education. Her research project was conducted in the summer of 2014 under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Spievak (Psychology) and made possible with the funding provided by an Adrian Tinsley Program summer research grant.

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