How Social Identity Influences Emotional and Motivational Reactions to Blatant Racism
Witnessing blatant racism has become increasingly common on social media. However, individuals of different social identities may perceive such scenes very differently. Individuals who share a social identity with the target of racism witness an outgroup member harming someone similar to them. Those who share a social identity with the perpetrator not only witness an ingroup member harming an outgroup member but also perceive an image threat to their group. Importantly, however, all groups likely perceive racism as a violation of a social norm that should provoke anger. In two studies, we demonstrate that Latinx, Asian non-Latinx and White non-Latinx individuals report similar levels of anger in response to blatant racism against a Latinx individual. However, White participants reported increases in shame. In our first study in a UCSB student sample, Latinx participants experienced increases in positive approach emotions with increased anger, such as strength and determination, when exposed to blatant racism. This effect did not replicate in a second study with older participants, but we found a significant moderation effect of age, such that younger Latinx individual's pattern matched our first sample of college students. Asian participants also experienced increase approach emotions with increased anger. This could suggest that younger Latinx and other non-majority group individuals may be motivated to engage in subsequent collective action when witnessing blatant racism, whereas White individuals may not be similarly motivated.