White Racism and Suboptimal Psychological Functioning among White Americans: Implications for Counseling and Prejudice Prevention

By Utsey, Shawn O.; McCarthy, Eileen et al. | Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, April 2002 | Go to article overview

White Racism and Suboptimal Psychological Functioning among White Americans: Implications for Counseling and Prejudice Prevention


Utsey, Shawn O., McCarthy, Eileen, Eubanks, Robin, Adrian, Genaro, Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development


This study examined the causal relationships between anxiety, racism, and self-esteem in a sample of White graduate and undergraduate students (N = 169). The results indicated that level of anxiety had a direct effect on anti-Black attitudes, which, in turn, had a direct effect on self-esteem. Implications for counseling interventions aimed at preventing prejudice among Whites are discussed.

Este estudio examino las relaciones causales entre la ansiedad, el racismo, y el auto-estima en un grupo de estudiantes graduados y estudiantes de bachillerato Blancos (N = 169). Los resultados indicaron que el nivel de ansiedad tuvo un efecto directo en las actitudes anti-Negras, queen torno tuvo un efecto directo en el auto-estima. Las implicaciones para las intervenciones de consejeria dirigidas a prevenir el prejuicio entre los Blancos son discutidas.

**********

Historically, psychologists and other social scientists have regarded the psychological consequences of racism as mainly a Black problem. In fact, the literature delineating the deleterious psychological and somatic effects of racism for Blacks is quite extensive (Allport, 1954; Essed, 1990; Feagin, 1991; Jones, 1997; Krieger & Sidney, 1996; Pettigrew, 1973; Simpson & Yinger, 1985; Utsey, 1998). However, what is conspicuously absent from the literature is empirical research that examines the relationship between White racism and the mental health functioning of White Americans (Bowser & Hunt, 1996). Understanding the impact of White racism on the psychological functioning of White Americans, besides having implications for the mental health of this population, may factor significantly in any efforts aimed at preventing racial prejudice.

Although recent empirical research is scarce, some anecdotal evidence suggests that Whites do experience psychological and emotional distress related to White racism. For example, Whites have reported experiencing anxiety, frustration, guilt, and shame when confronted with issues related to their own racism or to societal racism in general (Bowser & Hunt, 1996; Pettigrew, 1973; Welsing, 1991). According to Carter and Jones (1996), Whites often experience feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, and helplessness interwoven with a sense of intense confusion around issues related to racism. Furthermore, Whites who consider themselves to be egalitarian, while simultaneously holding that some forms of discrimination against Blacks are justified, have been found to experience emotional and psychological discomfort regarding discrimination (Wright, 1981). Simpson and Yinger (1985) posited that White Americans experience a personality distortion from the tension associated with this sense of moral ambivalence.

More recently, researchers examined the role of White racial identity attitudes in understanding the dynamics of White racism (Carter & Jones, 1996; Helms, 1990, 1994; Ponterotto, 1991). Helms (1994) identified the following six ego statuses (formerly stages) to describe the development of racial identity attitudes in Whites: Contact, Disintegration, Reintegration, Pseudo-Independence, Immersion-Emersion, and Autonomy. Of the six White racial identity statuses described by Helms, the first three (i.e., Contact, Disintegration, and Reintegration) represent the struggle of Whites to abandon racism. The remaining three White racial identity statuses (i.e., Pseudo-Independence, Immersion-Emersion, and Autonomy) are characteristic of Whites adopting a nonracist White identity. According to Helms (1990), in order for Whites to develop a nonracist White identity, they must accept their "Whiteness" and acknowledge those ways in which they collude with and benefit from racism.

Much of the early research that examined the psychological correlates of White racism produced dissimilar results. For example, in a study with a sample of psychiatric patients, researchers failed to detect any relationship between racial animosity and severity of psychiatric diagnosis (Ackerman & Jahoda, 1950). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

White Racism and Suboptimal Psychological Functioning among White Americans: Implications for Counseling and Prejudice Prevention
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.