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Abstract

Discrimination often elicits anger, and yet group members typically do not take actions to confront their situation. It may be that other emotions that run contrary to action-taking also arise (e.g., shame), limiting the active expression of anger. Indeed, Study 1 (N = 36) revealed that, using a failure feedback paradigm, women expressed greater shame when their failure was due to discrimination, compared to a lack of personal merit. In contrast to anger, self-reported shame was not associated with action-taking. In Study 2, women (N = 91) were emotionally primed to feel either anger or shame (vs. a no mood prime control), and the moderating influence of coping styles on the link between emotions, actions, and salivary cortisol levels following discrimination were assessed. Among women primed to feel anger, problem-focused coping predicted reduced self-reported shame, lower cortisol reactivity, and greater individualistic confrontational action endorsements. In contrast, priming shame increased cortisol reactivity, but diminished the relation between particular coping styles and their capacity to facilitate action. Findings are discussed in terms of the interactive influence of emotions and coping on responses to discrimination. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.