Leveraging motivational mindsets to foster positive interracial interactions

Mary C. Murphy*, Jennifer A. Richeson, Daniel C. Molden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


As the United States becomes increasingly diverse, interracial contact will become considerably less rare. Much research has suggested that interracial interactions are often stressful and uncomfortable for both Whites and racial minorities. Bringing together several bodies of research, the present article outlines a motivational perspective on the dynamics of intergroup contact. To this end, we consider the roles of three motivational mindsets that have the potential to shape interactions to be less cognitively depleting and more enjoyable for both interactants. In particular, we consider the effects of (i) approach and avoidance motivation (Handbook of Motivation and Cognition: Foundation of Social Behavior, 1990, New York: Guilford Press), (ii) promotion and prevention regulatory focus (American Psychologist, 52, 1997, 1280), and (iii) learning and performance goals (Psychological Review, 95, 1988, 256) in shaping the dynamics of interracial contact. We suggest that investigations into these motivational mindsets will offer further insight into how and why interracial interactions go awry and will assist in the development of strategies and interventions that facilitate more smooth and enjoyable contact experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-131
Number of pages14
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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