Longitudinal examination of the psychosocial costs of racism to whites across the college experience

Nathan R. Todd, Lisa B. Spanierman, V. Paul Poteat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


This longitudinal investigation adds to the growing body of scholarship on the psychosocial costs of racism to Whites, which refer to the consequences of being in the dominant position in an unjust, hierarchical system of societal racism. We examined how White students' affective costs of racism (i.e., White empathy, guilt, and fear) changed across the college experience and how gender, colorblind racial ideology, and diversity experiences were associated with those costs. Findings indicated that White empathy, guilt, and fear each had a distinct trajectory of change across the college experience. Moreover, patterns of change for each cost were moderated by colorblind racial attitude scores at college entrance. We also found that participation in college diversity experiences (e.g., diversity courses) was associated with the costs; moreover, different types of diversity experiences were linked to particular costs. These findings provide insight into the affective experiences of White students across college and thus may be useful to counseling psychologists and educators who design and implement programs and policies to enhance diversity education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-521
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of counseling psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Costs of racism to Whites
  • Diversity education
  • Racial empathy
  • White guilt
  • White racial attitudes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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