Maja Ahmann

Backlash toward Inclusion Policies: Psychological Underpinnings and Solutions

This research project explores the social psychological underpinnings of the debate around inclusion policies and free speech. As college campuses nationwide have instituted policies designed to promote inclusion (e.g., safe spaces, trigger warnings, hate speech codes, and pronoun usage policies), furor and debate have ignited. While proponents argue that inclusion policies protect marginalized and underrepresented groups from exclusion and discrimination, opponents argue that these policies coddle students and violate the First Amendment. The primary questions we seek to ask and answer are: 1) What are the psychological correlates of opposition to inclusive policies and perceived free speech violation? 2) Is this opposition motivated? Do people with different perceptions of threat react differently to policies focusing on racial minorities as opposed to, say, political minorities? 3) Can opposition be mitigated and if so how? 4) Finally, what are the implications of backlash and mitigation of backlash for attitudes about the groups involved, policies designed to promote diversity, and collective decision-making under conditions of diversity?

Message to Sponsor

Thank you donors for allowing us these opportunities. This summer has allowed me to see my career goals in a clearer light and I will forever reflect on the skills and lessons I’ve learned this summer! Thank you again.
  • Major: Legal Studies
  • Mentor: Victoria Plaut, Celina Romano, Law