Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Sharon Scales Rostosky


Structural racism is often perpetuated by well-intentioned White individuals who passively accept or are unaware of its existence. However, when their perceptions and understanding of the world are challenged through learning about structural racism, White people may experience emotions such as fear, and guilt, which seem to serve either a debilitating or a motivating role in multicultural attitude development. Self-compassion, which is the ability to process distressing emotions without resorting to avoidance of the emotional experience, may help White individuals work through strong negative affect that accompanies an awareness of structural racism and ultimately aid in the development of multicultural attitudes.

This hypothesized model of moderated mediation was tested using a sample of White adults (N = 240; 70.8% women, 26.3% men, 2.9% gender-expansive) who completed an online survey. Awareness of structural racism had a larger positive relationship with White guilt in individuals who endorsed lower levels of self-compassion. For individuals with high levels of self-compassion, more awareness of structural racism was associated with more fear, which in turn was associated with lower multicultural attitudes. For individuals with low levels of self-compassion, more awareness of structural racism was associated with less fear, which in turn was associated with more multicultural attitudes. Contrary to the theoretical model, the indirect effect of awareness of structural racism on multicultural attitudes through White guilt was not moderated by self-compassion. Implications and recommendations for research and practice in the field of counseling psychology are discussed.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)