Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Owen Richard Lightsey

Committee Member

Yonghong Xu

Committee Member

Sha'Kema Blackmon

Committee Member

Elin Ovrebo


The psychosocial costs of racism to Whites are the negative consequences that White people experience due to societal racism. Psychosocial costs include fear of racial minorities, guilt about being White, and empathy about racism. Psychosocial costs have been linked to negative outcomes, such as color-blind racial attitudes and cultural insensitivity. However, no studies have examined psychosocial costs in relation to negative mental health outcomes. This study integrated Plant and Devine's (2003) theory of intergroup anxiety and the literature on White racial attitudes with psychosocial costs. Plant and Devine argued that negative experiences with racial minorities foster negative expectations about future interracial interactions, which results in intergroup anxiety, or anxiety occurring during interactions with persons from a different social group. Furthermore, some studies have found that Whites experience anxiety and guilt due to awareness of or witnessing racism. No studies have examined whether quality of interracial interactions predicts psychosocial costs, and whether psychosocial costs, in turn, predict aspects of mental health--in particular state anxiety. The present study fills this gap by testing this hypothesized path model as well as a plausible second model in which trait anxiet predicts quality of interracial interactions, which, in turn, predicts psychosocial costs. The models were analyzed separately between men and women. In the target model, it was hypothesized that quality of interracial interactions would predict all three psychosocial costs. In turn, psychosocial costs would predict state anxiety. Models were tested using path analysis. All models resulted in good or acceptable fit according to most fit indices after model modifications. However, no models appeared viable for men and women in this sample, as many of the hypothesized paths were nonsignificant. For instance, in the target model for women, no psychosocial cost predicted state anxiety, and in the target model for men, only one psychosocial cost--White guilt--predicted state anxiety. In the second model, trait anxiety did not predict quality of interracial interactions. However, bias-corrected bootstrapping indicated that quality of interracial interactions mediated the relationship between trait anxiety and White fear among men. Additionally, quality of interracial interactions predicted all psychosocial costs among women.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.