White Guilt

SART maintains an active research area in the study of White racial emotions and attitudes. This work explores how feelings, identities and attitudes interface to shape experiences of White people in the contemporary United States. Specifically, we investigate the differences between racialized forms of guilt and shame, and the relationships between these kinds of affectivity and political/social attitudes, such as prejudice and discrimination. We ask: what is the political efficacy of White guilt in the 21st century? How has White guilt changed as an emotion amid rhetoric of a “post-racial” U.S.? What is White shame, and how might it manifest in lived experiences and popular culture? How do other dimensions of difference, namely gender and sexuality, intersect with race to co-constitute White racial affect? What are the psychometric challenges of measuring White racial affect and distinguishing it from other psychological constructs?

SART has conducted two major survey projects in this area, the results of which have been presented at the American Psychological Association and an invited lecture at The University of Tennessee. SART’s studies on White guilt are integral elements of Dr. Grzanka’s ongoing research on White racial affect and the intersectionality of racism. Here are some examples of presentations and publications in this area:

Grzanka, P. R., & Maher, J. T. (2012). Different, like everyone else: Stuff White People Like and the marketplace of diversity. Symbolic Interaction, 35, 368-393.

Grzanka, P. R., & Estrada, F. (2011). The Test of White Guilt and Shame: Further development and validation. Poster presentation at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention, Washington, D.C. 

Grzanka, P. R. (2011).  Feeling whiteness: Racism, affect and intersectionality. Research Connections: An Annual Publication from the Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity.

Grzanka, P. R., & Fassinger, R. E. (2009). Validating a psychometric test of White guilt and White shame. Poster presentation at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention, Toronto, CA.


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