Although previous research has shown ingroup identification to be a reliable buffer against many negative effects of perceiving oneself as the target of discrimination, little is known about the underlying psychological processes. This dissertation focuses on how identification might influence the recalling of and reactions to episodes of discrimination in ways that support well-being. In Study 1, ethnic minority and majority participants completed a measure of identification before imagining themselves experiencing a blatant or subtle discrimination episode or a neutral interaction. Participants later recounted the event as though telling it to an ingroup friend. Results indicated that identification helped maintain self-esteem and well-being when the discrimination described was blatant. The positive effects of identification did not differ for minority and majority group participants, though higher cognitive/emotional engagement strengthened the positive impact of identification for minorities, while having a negative effect for highly identified majorities. In Study 2, minority and majority group participants imagined experiencing a blatant episode of discrimination before recounting this experience as they would to either an ingroup member or a member of the perpetrator's ethnic group who was either a close friend or a classmate. Results unexpectedly revealed that perceived audience did not generally influence the effects of identification on self-esteem and well-being, although participants showed lower environmental mastery and self-efficacy when imagining recounting discrimination to a friend. In Study 3, in an attempt to document differences in the social scripts of high and low identifiers, participants described a typical episode of discrimination against their ingroup. Identification was associated with a number of differences, including increased script development and more emotional responding; identification was also associated with a reduced sense of personal responsibility in minorities. Additionally, other-directed emotions partially mediated the relationship between identification and several forms of coping, suggesting that differences in social scripts used to assist recounting may help explain identification's association with better coping in the face of discrimination. Overall, these studies, although diverse in their methodology and findings, help provide a clearer picture of how identification and the recounting processes may interact to influence self-esteem and well-being in the face of discrimination.
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Thesis advisor: Wright, Stephen
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