Assessing the Emotional Consequences of Witnessing Racial Group Members Behaving Negatively in Multiracial Intergroup Interactions

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Abstract Summary

The study examines the emotional consequences of witnessing a coworker’s negative behavior in a multiracial work setting. Black female undergraduates read a scenario in which they imagined themselves as an African-American woman named Amanda who is at a training session for a new job. During a break, Amanda converses with two previously unacquainted coworkers, a White woman (Stephanie) and an African-American woman (Kierra). Together, the three witness another coworker behaving in a “stereotypically Black” manner (i.e., cursing and loudly screaming). Next, participants indicated probable feelings (e.g., embarrassment, anger), as well as the amount of probable intergroup stress and their likelihood of wanting to associate with both of their coworkers in the future. Analyzed using a between-subjects independent t-test, results were consistent with the hypothesis that participants (N=29) would feel more negative emotion t(27)=2.51,p=0.018 after witnessing the negatively behaving Black (compared to non-stereotypically-neutral behaving) coworker. Contrary to the hypothesis, there was no significant difference in participants’ intergroup stress t(27)=0.43,p=0.672. Also, witnesses of stereotypically-negative behaviors had increased desire for future interactions t(27)=2.06,p=0.049. Data collection continues as we hope to achieve a sample size of N=90.

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