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Affective costs of Whiteness: Examining the role of White Guilt and White Shame

Galgay, Corinne

Although scholars have explored the role of emotions, specifically White guilt and shame, in combating racism, there is a dearth of research available regarding differences between White guilt and shame, and measures available that independently assess these emotions in relation to White racism. The purpose of this study was to test a model of White Guilt and White shame as distinct forms of racial affect that serve to promote anti-racism (N=881). The White Guilt and White Shame model, tested using structural equation modeling, hypothesized that combined aspects of White guilt and White shame proneness, collective White guilt (e.g., group based culpability) and motivation processes to respond without racism (e.g., internal, external) would serve to challenge the development of colorblindness and fear of people of color, while fostering greater empathy and willingness to combat racism. Although the proposed hypotheses were moderately supported, and an overall acceptable model fit was found, two modifications were made to White Shame within the original proposed model in accordance with theory and empirical findings. Results from this study indicated that White guilt proneness, collective White guilt, and internal motivation to respond without racism loaded on the factor White Guilt, while White shame proneness, collective White guilt, and external motivation to respond without prejudice loaded on the factor White shame. Furthermore, results also provided sufficient evidence that White Guilt and White Shame have a positive effect on reducing colorblindness and promoting racial empathy, rather than fear. Limitations, clinical implications, and further directions of research are discussed.

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More About This Work

Thesis Advisors
Carter, Robert T.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 10, 2018