Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Melanie M. Domenech Rodriguez


Renee V. Galliher

Third Advisor:

Scott C. Bates


The negative impacts of discriminatory events to the physiological and psychological stress of the recipient has been thoroughly documented. However, there is little to no evidence about the impacts to bystanders of these events, particularly White bystanders. Psychological impacts may emerge through academic achievement, which has implications for educational institutions and their diversity initiatives. This study examined the impact of witnessing discriminatory events on academic achievement, biological markers of distress, and emotional distress.

Academic achievement was negatively impacted for participants in the microaggression and blatant racism conditions when compared to a control condition. Study participants also experienced negative emotional impacts. These were evident through a decrease of positive emotion and an increase of negative emotion throughout the study. Counter to the stated hypothesis, biological markers of distress did not demonstrate a negative impact from the discriminatory event. Microaggressions, specifically, were not found to have negative impacts on academic achievement. There were also no differences in the relationship between biological markers of distress and academic achievement among the three conditions. These findings suggest that discriminatory behavior negatively impacts White bystanders emotional state and academic achievement.



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