Variables in interracial aggression: Anonymity, expected retaliation, and a riot

Edward Donnerstein, Marcia Donnerstein, Seymore Simon, Raymond Ditrichs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Examined the effects of anonymity, expected retaliation, race of target, and a campus racial disturbance on delivered and anticipated aggression (electric shock) in 2 experiments. 108 white male undergraduates served as Ss. In Exp. I, less direct and more indirect forms of aggression were delivered to black than to white targets when there was opportunity for the target to retaliate. When retaliation was unlikely, Ss delivered more direct forms of aggression to black than to white targets. Following a campus racial disturbance, direct forms of aggression toward black targets increased and were less dependent on the opportunity for retaliation (Exp. II). In both experiments more direct aggression was anticipated from black than from white targets. Results support the conclusion that white persons have learned to fear black retaliation, but that this fear acts only to inhibit direct forms of aggression in certain defined situations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-245
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1972
Externally publishedYes


  • anticipated aggression, anonymity &
  • campus racial disturbance, white college males
  • delivered &
  • expected retaliation &
  • race target &

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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