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Perceptions of non-target confronters in response to racist and heterosexist remarks


Cheryl L. Dickter, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, College of William and Mary, PO Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795, USA.



Research has established that targets who express disagreement with prejudicial comments directed toward their social group may be viewed negatively by those they confront or by members of social outgroups. Less research has examined how non-target individuals who confront prejudicial remarks are perceived. The current studies were designed to examine how non-targets who confronted racist (Study 1) and heterosexist (Study 2) comments would be perceived as a function of the level of offensiveness of the comment and the confrontation style used. The studies also examined whether confronting behavior would affect perceptions of the individual who made the prejudicial comment. Undergraduate participants read vignettes depicting a situation with a high or low offensive prejudicial comment in which a non-target individual confronted assertively, unassertively, or not at all. Participants provided judgments of both individuals. Results indicated that non-targets who confronted highly prejudicial comments either assertively or unassertively were liked and respected more than those who failed to confront. Additionally, commenters who were assertively confronted were respected less than commenters who were not. These findings suggest that non-targets may be especially effective in confronting prejudicial comments, as they do not suffer the same negative consequences as targets who confront. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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