White guilt: Its antecedents and consequences for attitudes toward affirmative action

Janet Kay Swim, Deborah L. Miller

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266 Scopus citations


Four studies examine the strength of feelings of White guilt, the relationship between White guilt and possible antecedents to this guilt, and the consequences of White guilt for attitudes toward affirmative action. Even though mean White guilt tended to be low, with the mean being just below the midpoint of the scale, the range and variability confirms the existence of feelings of White guilt for some. White guilt was associated with more negative personal evaluations of Whites and the theoretical antecedents of stronger beliefs in the existence of White privilege, greater estimates of the prevalence of discrimination against Blacks, and low prejudice against Blacks. Finally, results indicate that White guilt mediated the relationship from White privilege and beliefs about the prevalence of discrimination to attitudes toward affirmative action, and both White guilt and prejudice independently predicted attitudes toward affirmative action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-514
Number of pages15
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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