Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (PhD)
First Advisor/Committee Member
Dana Kendall, PhD
Second Advisor/Committee Member
Keyne Law, PhD
Third Advisor/Committee Member
Joel Jin, PhD
White fragility, mindfulness, self-awareness, self-efficacy for emotional regulation
When examining racial equity within organizations, a common theme is the failure of many organizations to address whiteness in their organizations (i.e., White supremacy, White privilege, White dominant culture). Decentering whiteness is key in racial equity work (Grimes, 2002). However, the process of decentering whiteness often results in backlash from Whites also known as White fragility (DiAngelo, 2011). This backlash impedes the organization from moving towards racial equity by upholding the racial status quo. The purpose of the current study is to further explore the role mindfulness plays in racial-equity work within organizations. Specifically, a mindfulness intervention was tested for its effectiveness in increasing White employees’ capability to manage emotional discomfort related to confronting their racial privilege (i.e., White fragility) against a control group. The intervention utilizes practices based on mindfulness principles stemming from DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy; Linehan, 1993a; Linehan, 1993b) and RO-DBT (Radically Open – Dialectical Behavior Therapy; Lynch, 2018a; Lynch, 2018b). Participants were recruited using the crowdsourcing platform Prolific and had to identify as White, work at least part time, and live in the United States. The sample included 130 participants. It was hypothesized that the mindfulness intervention would decrease participants’ emotional White fragility, increase self-awareness of one’s White fragility, and increase one’s self-efficacy for emotional regulation surrounding race based stress. The results indicated that mindfulness did not decrease emotional White fragility (B = -.004, p =.94), but did increase self-awareness of White fragility (B = 1.30, p < .001), and increased self-efficacy for emotional regulation surrounding race based stress (B = 0.67, p = .02). The results of the study provide practical implications for how mindfulness practices can be utilized within an organization to aid in their racial equity goals. Additionally, limitations of the current study are addressed along with a presentation of future research directions.
Caldwell, Vatia P., "Softening Resistance Toward Diversity Initiatives: The Role of Mindfulness in Mitigating Emotional White Fragility" (2020). Industrial-Organizational Psychology Dissertations. 29.
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