The Integral Role of Emotion in Interracial Interactions and College Student Outcomes

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Although the relationship between college interracial interactions and student outcomes has been the focus of considerable research, the underlying processes that explain these effects have rarely been examined. Theoretical perspectives and some empirical research suggest that emotions may play an integral role in explaining the link between interracial interactions and subsequent outcomes. The present study examined the potential mediating effects of emotional connections and reactions using a sample of 607 Australian undergraduate students. The results show that interracial emotional connections fully mediate the relationship between positive interracial interactions and student outcomes (i.e., changes in intergroup attitudes and civic engagement), and some indirect effects are present for corresponding analyses of negative interracial interactions. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

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