Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Dr. Ann C. Kruger

Second Advisor

Dr. Miles A. Irving

Third Advisor

Dr. Gabriel Kuperminc

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Nicole Patton-Terry

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Robert Hendrick


Black male students face a multitude of challenges that often lead to poor academic and social outcomes at school (Ferguson, 2001; Noguera, 2003). There is extensive research on the predictors of their problems, but far less on the factors that can lead to positive outcomes. Research has demonstrated Black males who are positive about their racial-ethnic identity have better academic and psychological outcomes than peers who have less positive feelings (Chavous et al., 2003). Less is known about how racial identity and other social-cognitive variables influence Black males’ pro-social behaviors, an important component of school success. To address this gap, this sequential, explanatory mixed-method study asked two main questions. First, do racial-ethnic identity and gender identity predict Black males’ pro-social behaviors and, if so, is this done jointly or independently? Second, do moral reasoning and Afro-centric values predict Black males’ pro-social behaviors and, if so, is this done jointly or independently? One hundred thirty-one African American adolescent males completed quantitative assessments of these variables. Follow up focus groups were used to contextualize quantitative findings. Using regression analysis, this study found racial public regard, gender public regard, and gender private regard positively predicted participants’ pro-social behaviors. In addition, racial public regard moderated the positive relationship between racial centrality and pro-social behaviors as well as the positive relationship between racial private regard and pro-social behaviors. The two focus groups (one with the highest pro-social scores and another with the lowest) revealed three important themes. First, all participants valued respect more than acts of kindness. Second, all participants reported low levels of racial public regard, and this encouraged them to act in pro-social ways, contradicting quantitative findings. Participants in the low pro-social group described the social world in more racialized terms than those in the high pro-social group. Third, all participants asserted that race mediates justice. Overall, these quantitative and qualitative results demonstrate how important racial public regard is in understanding Black adolescent males’ pro-social behaviors. Findings suggest critical conversations concerning race and public regard should be included in social-emotional learning initiatives for these students