Exploring the Missing Element of Racism: The Unintentional Factor

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Richards, Olivia Hayley




Definitions of racism often do not consider group specificities or contextual factors, with existing measures failing to discern the features of individuals who are well-meaning, but unintentionally perpetuate systemic differences. The present studies sought to assess the validity of the newly created Unintentional Racism Scale (URS) that would address the nuances of racism towards Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Participants (Study 1, N = 219; Study 2, N = 185) responded to 23 vignettes varying in ambiguity and context. The URS used a scenario format; for each, participants rated nine dimensions that reflect whether the behaviour depicted is racist and whether it is appropriate. The final scale included 15 scenarios that tapped into four forms of unintentional racism (microaggressions, paternalism, glorified differences, and justification of past actions). Psychometric analyses revealed that the four forms had acceptable reliability and demonstrated construct and criterion validity with other indices of racism and outcome measures.


Psychology - Social




Carleton University

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