Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Do words harm? The perceptions and attitudes of African American college students to hate speech
by Murray, Rodney, Ph.D., Capella University, 2011, 115; 3475188
Abstract (Summary)

This study is about how individuals perceive words that are intended to humiliate, and degrade. The foundation of this study is based on research that suggests hate speech can cause harm to the targets of racial epithets and slurs. The theoretical framework for this study is based on Social Identity Theory. In social identity theory, a person has not merely one personal self, but several selves, which correspond to widening circles of group membership. At the core of the hate-speech issue is the moral effects that hateful expressions are demeaning and insensitive and have conscious and unconscious effects on the individuals who experience them. Most communication responses and perceptions are mediated by an individual’s past experiences, as well as by their psychological and emotional states. This study compares African American college students who have experienced hate speech to those who have not experienced hate speech in order to determine what their perceptions and attitudes are regarding hate speech. The study hypothesizes that African American college students who have experienced hate speech will have more negative perceptions and attitudes toward hate speech than will African American college students who have not experienced hate speech. The study also hypothesizes that African American college students with greater commitment toward their ethnic identity will attribute more harm to hate speech than those with lower commitment in their ethnic identity. The proposed study is quantitative, and the research design for determining the effects of hate speech as an environmental variable is the ex post facto design.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rounds-Bryant, Jennifier
Commitee: Conis, Peter, Klein, Steven
School: Capella University
Department: School of Public Service Leadership
School Location: United States -- Minnesota
Source: DAI-A 73/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Black studies, Communication, Sociology, Criminology
Keywords: African-American, Hate, Hate crimes, Hate speech, Words that hurt
Publication Number: 3475188
ISBN: 978-1-124-93064-0
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