Princeton University Library Catalog

“I Feel For You”: Examining Ethnic Minorities’ Preferences for White Social Support as Sympathy for Empathy after Disclosing Negative Racial Experiences

Madubata, Ijeoma [Browse]
Senior thesis
Shelton, Nicole [Browse]
Sinclair, Stacey [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Psychology [Browse]
Class year:
58 pages
Summary note:
Past research has defined perspective taking as an influential factor on the development of positive attitudes in intergroup interactions. However, few studies have carefully analyzed the components of perspective taking that influence its effectiveness as well as the context in which it is effective. Specifically, perspective taking has been interchangeably compared to sympathy and empathy through ambiguous wording, but only recently have researchers begun to dichotomize the two forms of emotional support. This study examined intergroup interactions on the basis of ethnic minority satisfaction with Whites providing social support after they disclosed a negative racial experience. A total of 119 undergraduate ethnic minority students were randomly assigned to discuss a negative topic either pertaining to race or friendships in an online chat with a White confederate. The White confederate either randomly responded with a sympathetic or empathic response and participants reported their perceived support from the partner, the partner’s likeability, their willingness to pursue a future friendship, and their overall positive/negative affect and desired social support. Contrary to predictions, participants who disclosed a negative racial experience reported more satisfaction when they received empathy rather than sympathy from the White confederate.