Rowe, Bennett, and Atkinson’s White Racial Consciousness Model 

Brief Overview

Wayne Rowe, Sandra Bennett, and Donald Atkinson introduced the White racial consciousness model in 1994.  This theory offers a model to speak to the role White plays into the relationships with themselves and those who identify within another race.

Printable Summary (PDF)

Previous cohorts of FSU students have developed these printable summaries and used them to prepare for test and papers.  We hope they’ll be of help to you too.

Stages, Levels, Phases, and Components of the Theory

Stages, Levels, Phases, and Components of the Theory:  

  • Categorized into two categories (Non Linear):
    • Unachieved White Racial Consciousness: Three Types
    • Avoidant –
      • Unaware of the role race plays in society, shy away from race unless forced to have conversation or event
    • Dependent –
      • Individuals are aware of White as a race, but refuse to identify as such and lack commitment to values and beliefs unless it’s the consensus of the group
      • Reflection and resolution about White identity before an individual can move beyond this type of consciousness
    • Dissonant –
      • Individuals are aware of their White identity but struggle with information and events surrounding race or race confrontation.
      • Individuals are interested in informing themselves about other race identities
  • Achieved White Racial Consciousness: Four Types
    • Dominative –Individuals believe they are a superior race and believe in negative stereotypes
    • Passive – Individuals avoid interaction with other racial groups
    • Active – Individuals express views through prejudice and discrimination
    • Conflictive – Individuals believe every race is equal, but will be opposed to the idea to enact measures to create equality
    • Reactive – Individuals understand the reality of White privilege and understand the inequalities and injustice surrounding race
    • Active – Individuals with genuine concern and work to correct the issues, grapple with anger or disappoint if efforts are unsuccessful
    • Passive – Have little interaction or action to correct social justice issues
    • Integrative – Individuals understand the intricacies of race and the role it plays in our society and individuals also have an clear vision of their White Identity
Application of Theory to Practice

This section is designed to provide student affairs professionals, staff, and faculty members with tips and tools to apply theory to practice.

Annotations of Associated Literature

“Students who worked with advisors who encouraged reflection in goal setting and intentional planning and discussed with students their nonacademic life experiences were more likely to develop abilities and perspectives associated with self-authorship” (Evans et al., 190).

Original Citation

Rowe, W., Bennett, S. K., & Atkinson, D. R. (1994). White racial identity models: A critique and alternative proposal. Counseling Psychologist, 22(1), 129-146.

Additional Resources
About the Author

In 1994, Wayne Rowe, Sandra Bennett, and Donald Atkinson created the White racial consciousness model due to four concerns about the previous White racial identity models.

This page was written and created by Michelle Robinson. The webpage is maintained by Amanda Peerce and Jesse Ford.  For information on the page, please contact Amanda Peerce at or Jesse Ford at