CAN ANGRY BLACK AND WHITE WOMEN GET AHEAD IN THE ERA OF #METOO?: SOCIAL DYNAMICS IN EMOTION APPROPRIATENESS

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Author:
McCormick-Huhn, Kaitlin
Graduate Program:
Psychology
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
June 14, 2018
Committee Members:
  • Stephanie A. Shields, Dissertation Advisor
  • Stephanie A. Shields, Committee Chair
  • Jes L. Matsick, Committee Member
  • Alicia Ann Grandey, Committee Member
  • Aparna Anand Joshi, Outside Member
Keywords:
  • Historical context
  • stereotypes
  • emotional appropriateness
  • gender
  • women in the workplace
  • invalidation
Abstract:
Perceptions of emotional appropriateness occur within a complex system, rife with social dynamics. Using intersectionality theory as an analytic framework, I proposed we could map how third party emotional appropriateness judgments may be affected by who expresses anger, and by the social influence that accompanies the intersectional position of someone who invalidates or affirms that anger. Across four studies, I sought to replicate findings on perceptions of White women and White men’s workplace anger (Studies 1a and 1b) and to clarify conflicting findings on perceptions of Black women’s workplace anger (Studies 2 and 3). Additionally, I aimed to extend findings on Black women’s, White women’s, and White men’s workplace anger into the domains of invalidation (Studies 1a, 1b, and 2) and affirmation (Study 3) by examining the effects of a comment from an onlooker on perceivers’ (i.e., participants’) judgments of an angry protagonist’s appropriateness. In contrast to findings in the literature, in Study 1a, participants (N=234) rated White women protagonists as experiencing emotion of a more appropriate type and intensity than they did White men protagonists. Study 1b (N=245) replicated Study 1a and further demonstrated ratings of White women protagonists’ anger as of a more appropriate emotional intensity than White men protagonists’ depended on evaluations from participants high in news engagement. Results of Study 2 (N=255) replicated the interactive pattern of Study 1b but with Black women and White men protagonists and with belief in workplace opportunities as gendered as the moderating factor. Study 3 (N=273) replicated Study 2 but examined the effect of an affirming, rather than invalidating, comment from an onlooker. In Study 3, both effects of Black women protagonists’ anger being evaluated as of a more appropriate type and intensity than White men protagonists’ depended on ratings from participants high in belief in workplace opportunities as gendered. In Studies 1a, 1b, and 2, onlookers’ comments did not affect participants’ judgments of protagonists’ appropriateness. However, in Study 3 onlooker affirmation did positively influence perceivers’ judgments of the appropriateness of a protagonist’s emotional intensity. Across studies, protagonist and invalidator/affirmer intersectional positions did not interact to affect participants’ ratings of protagonist appropriateness. Together, findings suggest affirmation and invalidation are distinct social processes, support effectiveness of the emotion storyboard method for manipulating intersectional positions in social context, and, perhaps most importantly, suggest urgency for social psychology to consider historical context in the study of stereotypes and attitudes. Perceptions of emotional appropriateness occur within a complex system, rife with social dynamics. Using intersectionality theory as an analytic framework, I proposed we could map how third party emotional appropriateness judgments may be affected by who expresses anger, and by the social influence that accompanies the intersectional position of someone who invalidates or affirms that anger. Across four studies, I sought to replicate findings on perceptions of White women and White men’s workplace anger (Studies 1a and 1b) and to clarify conflicting findings on perceptions of Black women’s workplace anger (Studies 2 and 3). Additionally, I aimed to extend findings on Black women’s, White women’s, and White men’s workplace anger into the domains of invalidation (Studies 1a, 1b, and 2) and affirmation (Study 3) by examining the effects of a comment from an onlooker on perceivers’ (i.e., participants’) judgments of an angry protagonist’s appropriateness. In contrast to findings in the literature, in Study 1a, participants (N=234) rated White women protagonists as experiencing emotion of a more appropriate type and intensity than they did White men protagonists. Study 1b (N=245) replicated Study 1a and further demonstrated ratings of White women protagonists’ anger as of a more appropriate emotional intensity than White men protagonists’ depended on evaluations from participants high in news engagement. Results of Study 2 (N=255) replicated the interactive pattern of Study 1b but with Black women and White men protagonists and with belief in workplace opportunities as gendered as the moderating factor. Study 3 (N=273) replicated Study 2 but examined the effect of an affirming, rather than invalidating, comment from an onlooker. In Study 3, both effects of Black women protagonists’ anger being evaluated as of a more appropriate type and intensity than White men protagonists’ depended on ratings from participants high in belief in workplace opportunities as gendered. In Studies 1a, 1b, and 2, onlookers’ comments did not affect participants’ judgments of protagonists’ appropriateness. However, in Study 3 onlooker affirmation did positively influence perceivers’ judgments of the appropriateness of a protagonist’s emotional intensity. Across studies, protagonist and invalidator/affirmer intersectional positions did not interact to affect participants’ ratings of protagonist appropriateness. Together, findings suggest affirmation and invalidation are distinct social processes, support effectiveness of the emotion storyboard method for manipulating intersectional positions in social context, and, perhaps most importantly, suggest urgency for social psychology to consider historical context in the study of stereotypes and attitudes.