White Men's Fears, White Women's Tears: Examining Gender Differences in Racial Affect Types

Lisa B. Spanierman, Jacquelyn C. Beard, Nathan R. Todd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


This investigation extends research on White students' affective costs of racism. Consistent with previous research that identified distinct costs of racism (or racial affect) types, the authors used cluster analysis to examine unique patterns in White empathy, guilt, and fear among White undergraduate women (n = 227) and men (n = 175) from a large university in the Midwestern United States. Extending prior research and building on conceptual scholarship concerned with intersections of race and gender, the authors separated the sample by gender to determine whether different affective costs of racism types emerged for women and men. The authors found the same five cluster solution for both women and men in the present study, and these solutions were consistent with previous research conducted among combined samples of women and men. Findings suggested that women were significantly more likely than men to be in the most desirable, Antiracist type, compared to the least desirable, Insensitive and Afraid type. Additionally, the authors examined whether support for affirmation action differed by racial affect type for women and men. Partially supporting their hypothesis, the authors found that racial affect types with different levels of White empathy distinguished levels of support for affirmative action among White women. Among White men, the authors found that racial affect types with different levels of White fear explained differing levels of affirmative action support. Implications for future research and diversity education interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-186
Number of pages13
JournalSex Roles
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012
Externally publishedYes



  • Affirmative action beliefs
  • Costs of racism to Whites
  • Racial affect
  • White men and White women
  • Whites' racial attitudes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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