White Students Reflecting on Whiteness: Understanding Emotional Responses

Nathan R. Todd, Lisa B. Spanierman, Mark S. Aber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the present investigation, we explored potential predictors of White students' general emotional responses after they reflected on their Whiteness in a semistructured interview (n = 88) or written reflection (n = 187). Specifically, we examined how color-blindness (i.e., awareness of White privilege) and racial affect (i.e., White empathy, White guilt, and White fear), assessed before the interview or written reflection, may predict positive and negative emotional responses, assessed immediately following the interview or written reflection. Furthermore, we considered whether affective costs of racism to Whites moderated the association between racial color-blindness and general positive and negative emotional responses of White students. Findings indicated that affective costs of racism moderated associations between racial color-blindness and general emotional responses. Specifically, White fear moderated associations for the written reflection group whereas White empathy moderated an association in the interview. White guilt did not moderate, but instead directly predicted a negative emotional response in the written reflection group. Findings suggest that the interaction between racial color-blindness and racial affect is important when predicting students' emotional responses to reflecting on their Whiteness. Implications for educators and administrators are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-110
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Diversity in Higher Education
Volume3
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • color-blind racial attitudes
  • positive and negative emotional responses
  • psychosocial costs of racism to Whites
  • racial diversity education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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