Discrimination Is Not Just Black and White in Romantic Relationships: A Consideration of Perspective Taking and Self-Expansion

Abigail J. Caselli, Laura V. Machia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Interracial relationships can satisfy our human need for interpersonal bonds, but face adversity due to racial discrimination. This adversity is not parallel for the involved partners, however, in ways that have implications for relationship outcomes. As such, in the current research, we considered that discrimi-nation may provide an avenue for positive self-expansion for a White partner, insofar as they use it to learn more about their partner’s worldview and experience. This is important, as facing racial discrimination could be a reason White partners think about ending their relationship. Thus, identifying processes that mitigate adversity for the White partner could bolster relationship outcomes for both partners and enhance persistence in interracial relationships. Specifically, we tested whether White partners engaging in perspective taking could buffer against the negativity of discrimination. InStudy1(N = 260), we found that perspective taking was associated with feeling the relationship expanded one’s worldview for White partners in interracial relationships (but not for Black or non-White Hispanic partners). In Studies 2–4(N = 531), we found that partners who engaged in perspective taking when discrimination was salient experienced greater positive self-expansion, which in turn led to greater reports of relationship quality. Collectively, these results suggest that perspective taking provides one process by which interracial relationships can be fortified against the adversity of racial discrimination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • discrimination
  • interracial relationships
  • perspective taking
  • self-adulteration
  • self-expansion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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