Engaging White participants in racial dialogues: Group composition and dialogue structure.

One effective strategy for combatting racism and promoting understanding across racial lines is structured dialogue (e.g., Nagda, 2006). Previous research on structured racial dialogues has used a self-selecting participant pool of individuals who are motivated to participate in racial dialogues (e.g., Gurin, Nagda, & Zúñiga, 2013). However, previous research suggests that many White individuals may be avoidant of racial dialogues and certain aspects of a dialogue might increase or decrease this avoidance (e.g., Sue, 2013). In the current study, we examined 2 main factors that might affect White college students’ willingness to participate in a racial dialogue and share their thoughts honestly: racial composition of the group and structuring of the dialogue with ground rules. Participants read 1 of 4 randomly assigned vignettes of a racial dialogue varying across the 2 variables (mixed-race vs. all-White; structured vs. not-structured). The results revealed a significant interaction between the racial make-up of the dialogue group and the structure of the group on participants’ predicted willingness to share their honest thoughts. We found that participants predicted being more willing to share their thoughts in structured, mixed-race groups than in structured, all-White groups, or mixed-race groups. We also found that structured dialogues led participants to report more interest in participating in a similar group on campus. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)