Date of Conferral



Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)




Cameron John


AbstractThe word nigger has a troublesome history in America for many African Americans. It represents a strong connection to centuries of slavery, the Jim Crow era, discrimination, racism, and oppression. The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the specific thoughts and feelings of African Americans toward the use of the word nigger by African Americans and by Caucasians. Although credible research in the area of racial images and racial slurs has been conducted, research has yet to specifically explore the thoughts and feelings African Americans have about the use of the word nigger by African Americans and Caucasians. The conceptual framework in this research consisted of Albert Bandura’s social learning theory, coupled with the social identity theory by Tajfel, and the social comparison theory proposed by Festinger. Using a qualitative approach of criterion-based purposeful sampling, the participants of this study consisted of a very diverse group of 15 African Americans. Interviews using open ended questions were the method for data collection. The data analysis consisted of identifying recurring themes. The findings of the study uncovered three key points. The first, African Americans are not monolithic with their views on this issue. Second, the data revealed African Americans overwhelming feel Caucasians should never use the word nigger. Third, African Americans are allowed to use the word in certain situations where context and relationships portray key roles. This research implication for positive social change includes race relations advancements between African Americans and Caucasians and cultural improvements among African Americans, resulting in better communications and undergoing a visible level of progress.

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