Using outgroup comfort to predict black students’ college experiences

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outgroup comfort, intergroup anxiety, Blacks, college students, experience sampling, intersectionality


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This study investigated whether Black students’ social comfort with Whites, termed outgroup comfort (OC), predicted outcomes related to academics and mental health. Surveys administered to Black college students near the beginning and end of their first year showed OC measured in the fall predicted outcomes assessed in the spring, including contact with other races, academic concerns among men, and psychological well-being among women. A subsample selected on the basis of high or low OC scores participated in two weeks of experience sampling, revealing students high in OC reported less state anxiety than those low in OC when in academic settings; in nonacademic settings, anxiety did not differ by OC. System-justifying ideology favoring the outgroup was controlled, thus OC is distinct from internalized oppression. Results are discussed in relation to gender differences in racial identity and college student development.

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