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Title: When good intentions backfire: Intergroup asymmetries in understanding
Authors: Holoien, Deborah Son
Advisors: Shelton, J. Nicole
Contributors: Psychology Department
Keywords: Affiliation
Subjects: Psychology
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines how Whites' desire to affiliate with Blacks may cause them to overestimate how well they understand Blacks' experiences with racial discrimination. Because Whites risk being perceived as prejudiced, particularly in contexts where race is salient, they may try to overcome this impression by wanting to affiliate with Blacks. One consequence of their desire to affiliate may be to overestimate how well they understand Blacks compared to how well Blacks feel understood. Five studies explore the psychological underpinnings associated with asymmetries in understanding between Whites and Blacks. In Study 1, Whites' desire to affiliate with Blacks predicted perceived understanding when race was salient (vs. less salient). In Study 2, Whites' desire to affiliate with Blacks caused them to feel that they understood Blacks' racial experiences to a greater extent than Blacks felt understood. In Study 3, White and Black participants imagined a discussion where a Black student disclosed about a negative racial (vs. non-racial) experience and a White student responded by saying he understood (vs. didn't understand). For the racial experience only, Black participants preferred that the White student say he didn't understand, but White participants preferred he say that he understood. In Study 4, White participants discussed racial issues with a Black or White partner. Whites' desire to affiliate caused them to feel that they understood the Black (vs. White) partner better. In Study 5, White and Black students discussed a negative racial (vs. non-racial) college experience. When talking about race, Whites with high desire to affiliate with Blacks were significantly inaccurate about how well they understood their Black partner compared to how understood their Black partner actually felt. Collectively, this research demonstrates the difficulties of achieving intergroup understanding when racial divides are salient and Whites want to affiliate with Blacks in order to avoid appearing prejudiced. Furthermore, it underscores the importance of investigating how seemingly good intentions--such as the desire to affiliate--can contribute to adverse intergroup outcomes.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Psychology

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