Date of Award

5-1-2018

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Komarraju, Meera

Abstract

The current study examined the differences in perceptions of three types of microaggressions experienced by African Americans and Latino Americans. Additionally, this study addressed how the coping mechanism of confrontation may be perceived depending on the level of the microaggression. Finally, colorblind attitudes were examined as an individual difference variable in predicting responses to microaggressions. The study used a 2 (target ethnicity: African American and Latino American) x 3 (types of microaggression: microassault, microinsult, and microinvalidation) between subjects design. A sample of 304 White participants was obtained via MTurk. Participants first read a vignette showing an interaction between a White supervisor and a subordinate of color (African American or Latino American). After reading the vignette, participants were asked to complete the Microaggression Perception Scale, a course of action scale to assess their perception of what the target should have done after the microaggressive incident, the Color-Blind Racial Attitude Scale (COBRA), and a demographic survey. The data were analyzed using MANOVA and regression analyses and the results indicated five major findings. First, White participants were found to be able to perceive microaggressions as having occurred as they became more blatant (from microinvalidation to microinsult to microassault). Second, there were no significant differences in their perceptions of the types of microaggression between the African American and Latino American targets. However, they perceived microinvalidation when it occurred for the White target more clearly than they did the microinvalidation for the African American target. Third, color-blind racial attitudes were related to White individuals’ perception of microinsults and microassaults, but not microinvalidation, indicating those who identified more strongly with the colorblind racial attitude were less likely to perceive the microaggression as being biased even when the microaggression was blatant. Fourth, participants also recommended that individuals of color should take more drastic action for microassault and less drastic action for microinvalidation. This suggested that the microassaults were perceived as not acceptable behavior and that these behaviors should be reported in writing to upper administration in the organization. Finally, color-blind racial attitudes moderated the relationship between the perceptions of microinvalidations and microassaults, and the course of action to deal with aggression. Implications of the study are further discussed.

Available for download on Friday, February 19, 2021

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