The Role of Intent and Harm in Judgments of Prejudice and Discrimination

Janet K. Swim, Elizabeth D. Scott, Gretchen B. Sechrist, Bernadette Campbell, Charles Stangor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Four experiments examined how an actor's intent and the harm experienced by a target influence judgments of prejudice and discrimination. The presence of intent increased the likelihood that participants judged an actor as prejudiced and the actor's behavior as discriminatory. When intent was uncertain, harm influenced judgments of the behavior, which in turn influenced judgments of the actor, and participants were more cautious in their judgments about an actor than an actor's behavior. Harm also played a stronger role in targets' than observers' judgments. Understanding the role of intent and harm on perceptions of prejudice can help explain variations in targets' versus observers', and possibly targets' versus actors', judgments of discrimination and prejudice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)944-959
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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