White guilt and racial compensation: The benefits and limits of self-focus.

Iyer, A., Leach, C.W. & Crosby, F. (2003) White guilt and racial compensation: The benefits and limits of self-focus. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 117-129.

In two studies, the authors 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). Just as personal guilt is associated with efforts at restitution,
White guilt was predictive of support for affirmative action programs aimed at compensating African Americans. White guilt was not, however, predictive of support for noncompensatory 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.

(My publication)Posted: Friday, February 27, 2009 by cwleach
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