Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Joe Miles

Committee Members

Kirsten A. Gonzalez, Patrick R. Grzanka


This experimental study examined the effects of expressive writing (EW) on the level of anxiety that White college students experience for their anticipated participation in a dialogue about race and racism with a racially diverse group of people. Ninety-one undergraduate college students, aged 18 to 25 years, living in the United States and identifying their race as White/European American were randomly assigned to an experimental or control condition for this online study. In both conditions, participants were informed that they would be participating in an online dialogue about race and racism with a racially diverse group of people after they completed an initial task. Specifically, experimental group participants (N = 46) engaged in a ten-minute EW task about their hopes and fears for their upcoming participation in the online dialogue about racism. Control group participants (N = 45) filled out unrelated assessments (i.e., the Mindful Self-Care Scale, Cook-Cottone & Guyker, 2018; and the Adult Leisure Activities Scale, Jopp & Hertzog, 2010) that took approximately the same amount of time as the EW task. Both groups then filled out anxiety subscale Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS, Zigmond & Snaith, 1983) and the Intergroup Anxiety Scale (Stephen & Stephen, 1985). Based on the independent samples t-test analyses, it was found that the experimental group participants had significantly lower levels of anxiety on the HADS anxiety scale about participating in the dialogue, whereas there were no statistically significant differences on the Intergroup Anxiety Scale. Theoretical and practical implications of utilizing this no-cost and time-efficient EW intervention are discussed.

Keywords: expressive writing, anxiety, intergroup dialogue, race, racism


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