Date of Graduation
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)
Second Committee Member
Lindsay S Ham
Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) experience interactions with subtle or ambiguous racial undertones that may be perceived as discriminatory, benign, or even complimentary. These interactions have been labeled microaggressions or a subtle form of everyday discrimination. Microaggressions are associated with detrimental health and cognitive effects (Lui & Quezada, 2019; Ozier et al., 2019). To better understand and label microaggressions, it is important to consider contextual factors. For example, the same statement or behavior is likely interpreted differently depending on who is involved, what is said or done, when it occurs, where it takes place, and why the statement or behavior occurred. The current studies examine three contextual variables (race, power status, offering an apology) to see how this impacts the perception and attribution of the microaggression statement. Participants were predominately White college students. They watched videos of interactions between students and a representative of the psychology club. The psychology club representative commits a microaggression. In study 1, the race of the psychology representative is manipulated. In study 2, the power of the psychology representative is manipulated. In study 3, I manipulated whether the psychology representative provided an apology and the level of sincerity. For study 1, I hypothesized that microaggressions perpetrated by an ingroup member would be rated as less problematic than microaggressions perpetrated by an outgroup member (H1). I also hypothesized that microaggression perpetrated by a White person would be rated as most problematic compared to microaggressions perpetrated by a BIPOC (H2). For study 2, I hypothesized that microaggressions perpetrated by a person with higher power would be rated as more problematic than microaggressions perpetrated by a person with equal power (H3). For study 3, I hypothesized that microaggressions followed by an apology (sincere or insincere) will be rated as more problematic than microaggressions without an apology, because the intent of the statement (i.e., that it was racially motivated) will be made clear (H4). I also hypothesized that microaggressions followed by a sincere apology will be rated as less problematic than microaggressions followed by an insincere apology (H5). Across all three studies, microaggressions were viewed as problematic. Contextual factors largely did not impact perceptions, contrary to my hypotheses. However, individual difference variables such as the acceptability of racial microaggression, internal and external motivations to respond without prejudice, and perspective taking did impact perceptions. Future research with more diverse samples, especially with people who have directly experienced microaggressions, would be useful to continue elucidating contextual nuance in microaggressive behaviors.
Ledesma, R. (2023). Considering Contextual Factors in the Perception and Attribution of Racial Microaggressions. Graduate Theses and Dissertations Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/4922