Rejection, racism, and reconciliation: Intergroup rejection and its relationship with cross-group friendship, group-based emotions, prejudice, and avoidance

Fiona Kate Barlow (2009). Rejection, racism, and reconciliation: Intergroup rejection and its relationship with cross-group friendship, group-based emotions, prejudice, and avoidance PhD Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Fiona Kate Barlow
Thesis Title Rejection, racism, and reconciliation: Intergroup rejection and its relationship with cross-group friendship, group-based emotions, prejudice, and avoidance
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-11
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Winnifred R. Louis
Professor Deborah J. Terry
Total pages 185
Total black and white pages 185
Subjects 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Abstract/Summary The present thesis deals with racism in Australia. Specifically, we address non-Aboriginal attitudes towards Aboriginal Australians. In the present thesis we propose a model by which expected rejection by the Aboriginal minority group motivates non-Aboriginal majority group members to intergroup antagonism and avoidance. A small but growing body of research has begun to demonstrate that members of privileged majority groups are surprisingly sensitive to rejection by comparatively disadvantaged minority groups (e.g., Butz & Plant, 2006; Shelton & Richeson, 2005). The present thesis aimed to test the dark side of cross-group contact – a spiral of perceived outgroup rejection flowing on to increased racism and intergroup avoidance. Further to this, it aimed to contribute to the intergroup emotions literature (e.g., Miller, Smith, & Mackie, 2004; E. R. Smith, 1993) by testing intergroup anxiety and collective guilt as critical mediators of the relationship between the expectations of race-based rejection (which we term ‘cognitions of rejection’), and the dependent variables of racism and intergroup avoidance. We also aimed to extend the rejection model to the minority-minority context, proposing minority-group identification as an important moderator of the effects of rejection in this context. Finally, we aimed to demonstrate causality by manipulating intergroup rejection over two experiments. In Chapter 2 we present a study of White Australians (N = 273). We found that friendship with Aboriginal Australians was associated with reduced cognitions of rejection and intergroup anxiety, and that these variables fully mediated the effect of cross-group friendship on the avoidance of sensitive intergroup topics in conversation, active avoidance of Aboriginal people, and old-fashioned prejudice. The novel mediator proposed here, cognitions of rejection, predicted intergroup anxiety, and also predicted the three outcome variables via intergroup anxiety. Over and above their indirect effects via anxiety, cognitions of rejection directly predicted both conversational and active avoidance. In Chapter 3 we present a second correlational study, extending our model to a minority-minority context. Asian Australians’ (N = 87) attitudes towards Aboriginal Australians were measured, and compared to those found in the sample presented in Chapter 2. We found that both Asian and European participants who perceived Aboriginal Australians as rejecting were more likely to express intergroup anxiety. Anxiety again mediated the relationship between cognitions of rejection and the dependent variables. Whilst there was a direct positive relationship between European Australian identification and prejudice, for Asian Australian participants, identification moderated the relationship between cognitions of rejection and the dependent variables. Asian Australian participants who identified more strongly with their ethnic group were particularly sensitive to cognitions of rejection, which increased modern racism and avoidance, and lowered political support. The pattern was reversed for Asian Australians who identified less strongly with their ethnic group – they were generally insensitive to cognitions of rejection, however were more likely to endorse a national apology to Aboriginal Australians when they perceived Aboriginal Australians as rejecting. In this chapter we again demonstrate a negative cycle of perceived rejection, anxiety, and avoidance, and discuss the role of social identity as a moderator of rejection in the minority-minority context. Finally, in Chapter 4 we present two experimental studies in which we included collective guilt, in addition to intergroup anxiety, as a potential mediator of the rejection-prejudice and avoidance relationship. In Experiment 1 Australian university students (N = 139) were told that Aboriginal Australians rejected the government’s recent intergroup apology. In Experiment 2 a second university sample (N = 143) was exposed to a more general manipulation of rejection by Aboriginal Australians. Across both experiments, collective guilt decreased in response to rejection. Further, in Experiment 2, participants in the rejection condition expressed more intergroup anxiety and less interest in cross-group contact than those in the control condition. Both collective guilt and intergroup anxiety independently mediated the effect of rejection on interest in cross-group interaction. Overall, the research presented in the current thesis demonstrates that perceived rejection can impede intergroup relations. Cognitions of rejection increased intergroup avoidance, and in Chapters 2 and 3 also were linked to increased racism and decreased support for an apology to Aboriginal Australians. Intergroup anxiety and collective guilt emerged as critical intergroup emotions that mediated the impact of perceived rejection on avoidance. We contribute to the growing literature on intergroup rejection, demonstrating the link between cognitions of rejection and harmful intergroup emotions, racism, and avoidance. In addition to the theoretical contributions offered within the present thesis, social implications and future directions are discussed.
Keyword Rejection
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

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Created: Thu, 12 Nov 2009, 18:35:11 EST by Ms Fiona Barlow on behalf of Library - Information Access Service