Samuel Van Vleet


Dr. Yolanda Flores Niemann
Research Topic: 
Power in the Panels: Superhero Powers as Stereotypes
This poster utilizes a combination of quantitative survey and qualitative free response data from a study examining different attitudes about race via a comic book super hero lens. The research team investigated each participant’s implicit biases and how self-identity interacts with stereotypes to form perceptions of media figures. Participants (N= 522) were randomly presented drawings of racially diverse (White, African American, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Native American) superheroes specifically created for the study and asked questions about their perceptions of the hero’s powers, character role (hero, villain, sidekick), and socioeconomic status. This poster focuses on the ascription of powers to a hero to assess whether certain powers would be given to heroes based on race. Qualitative data regarding each participant’s ideation of their superhero’s power were examined and several poignant differences were supported. Hero powers were often ascribed similarly to popular real-world comic book heroes or based on racial stereotypes. Costuming appears to be an important factor to control for when conducting these sorts of studies.