Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Joseph R. Miles

Committee Members

Jacob J. Levy, Brent Mallinckrodt

Abstract

We examined shared emotional experiences of 89 participants in 24 intergroup dialogue (IGD) groups at a large, public university in the Southeastern US. These groups brought together students for sustained dialogue about gender, race and ethnicity, religion and spirituality, sexual orientation, or social class and associated forms of privilege and oppression. They were designed to develop: (a) relationships across groups, (b) critical social consciousness, and (c) capacities to promote social justice. Dialogue groups met for eight consecutive weeks. After each session, participants completed measures of group climate and positive and negative emotion during the session. In addition, they completed a measure of ethnocultural empathy prior to their first dialogue and after their last session. Based on research on shared emotion and other shared experiences, we predicted similarity in group members’ emotional experiences within a session (operationalized as the session standard deviation) would increase over time, and that mean levels and similarity in positive and negative emotions would relate to positive outcomes at both the session-level (i.e., group climate) as well as across eight weeks of dialogue (i.e., ethnocultural empathy). Contrary to our hypotheses, group members’ emotions did not converge over time. Mean levels of positive and negative affect, but not similarity, were significantly related to group climate factors. Implications for IGD facilitator training and supervision are discussed.

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