Reactions to Witnessing Ethnic Microaggressions: An Experimental Study
Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Introduction: Minimal research has examined how witnesses identify and respond to ethnic microaggressions including the role of colorblind racial attitudes.
Method: University student participants (N = 401) were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions in which they witnessed a research decoy experiencing an ethnic microaggression, an overt discriminatory interaction, or a neutral interaction (control).
Results: The study findings showed that 46% of participants who witnessed an ethnic microaggression identified it as unfair or differential treatment compared to 84% of those who observed an overt form of discrimination. Multilevel model analyses revealed a 3-way interaction (time × experimental condition × colorblind racial attitudes) such that participants with low colorblind racial attitudes had significant increases in negative affect and systolic blood pressure after witnessing overt discrimination.
Discussion: Key differences exist in the identification and responses associated with witnessing an ethnic microaggression compared to overt discrimination. Findings suggest that shifting colorblind racial attitudes may be a promising area of intervention to improve detection of ethnic microaggressions.
Torres, Lucas; Reveles, Alexandra K.; Mata-Greve, Felicia; Schwartz, Sarah; and Rodriguez, Melanie M. Domenech, "Reactions to Witnessing Ethnic Microaggressions: An Experimental Study" (2020). Psychology Faculty Research and Publications. 544.