The vast majority of theses in this collection are open access and freely available. There are a small number of theses that have access restricted to the WWU campus. For off-campus access to a thesis labeled "Campus Only Access," please log in here with your WWU universal ID, or talk to your librarian about requesting the restricted thesis through interlibrary loan.
Date Permissions Signed
Date of Award
Department or Program Affiliation
Master of Science (MS)
Lemm, Kristi M., 1971-
Warren, Meg A.
Awareness of one’s privilege has been shown to evoke feelings of defensiveness or collective guilt, particularly when one’s privileged identity is highly central to their sense of self. Research on privilege indicates that people may psychologically distance themselves from the notion of privilege in order to protect themselves from its potentially threatening manner (Phillips & Lowery, 2015). Construal level theory states that concepts that are more psychologically close are construed in more concrete terms whereas concepts that are more psychologically distant are construed as more abstract (Trope & Liberman, 2010). In the present study, 246 male participants were assessed for the importance of their male identity and were then primed with either a close or distant construal mindset. They were then randomly assigned to read about privilege or to read neutral statements. Afterwards, participants’ reactions were assessed including levels of defensiveness and collective guilt. Results indicated that male identity did not interact with construal condition or privilege condition to predict reactions to male privilege. However, participants’ political orientation did interact with privilege condition and construal level, such that when primed with a close construal level, liberal participants were more likely to respond with collective guilt when made aware of their privilege in comparison to conservative participants. Implications and possible explanations for the lack of anticipated effects are discussed.
male privilege, inequality, construal level theory, collective guilt, prejudice
Western Washington University
Subject – LCSH
Privilege (Social psychology); Male domination (Social structure); Entitlement attitudes; Guilt
Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.
Schwam, Allison, "Not My Privilege: How Construal Level Explains Reactions to Male Privilege" (2021). WWU Graduate School Collection. 1041.