Previous efforts to understand microaggressions have surveyed stigmatized group members’ experiences of receiving microaggressions. This report presents the first attempt to measure self-reported likelihood of delivering microaggressions rather than receiving microaggressions and to explore the association between the likelihood of delivering microaggressions and racial prejudice. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 33 black and 118 non-Hispanic white undergraduate students at a large public Southern/Midwest university. Black students reported the degree to which a series of statements would be experienced as microaggressive. White students reported their likelihood of delivering those statements and completed measures of racial prejudice. White students’ self-reported likelihood of engaging in microaggressive acts was significantly related to all measures of racial prejudice. The single item “A lot of minorities are too sensitive” was the strongest predictor of negative feelings toward black people. Results offer preliminary support that the delivery of microaggressions by white students is not simply innocuous behavior and may be indicative of broad, complex, and negative racial attitudes and explicit underlying hostility and negative feelings toward black students.
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This research was supported in part by a grant to Monnica T. Williams from the American Psychological Foundation.
A friend of yours has wanted you to meet a friend, saying they think you will like the person. You meet this person one-on-one. He turns out to be a tall, fit-looking black man who says he is a law student. He seems very smart and he has a very sophisticated vocabulary. You like his personality.
How likely would you be to think or say the following to him in the course of a conversation (or something similar, maybe not the exact words)?
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Kanter, J.W., Williams, M.T., Kuczynski, A.M. et al. A Preliminary Report on the Relationship Between Microaggressions Against Black People and Racism Among White College Students. Race Soc Probl 9, 291–299 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12552-017-9214-0