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White guilt and racial compensation: the benefit and limits of self-focus
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 18:00 authored by Aarti Iyer, Colin Wayne Leach, Faye J Crosby
In two studies we investigated guilt as a response to group-based advantage. Consistent with its conceptualization as a self-focused emotion, White guilt was based in self-focused beliefs in racial inequality. Thus, guilt was associated with belief in White privilege (Study 1) and resulted from seeing European Americans as perpetrators of racial discrimination (Study 2). White guilt was predictive of support for affirmative action programs aimed at compensating African Americans. White guilt was not, however, predictive of support for non-compensatory efforts at promoting equality, such as affirmative action programs that increase opportunities (Study 2). In contrast, the other-focused emotion of group-based sympathy was a more general predictor of support for different affirmative action policies. Our findings demonstrate the benefits and limits of group-based guilt as a basis of support for social equality, and highlight the value of understanding the specific emotions elicited in intergroup contexts.
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Department affiliated with
- Psychology Publications
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