Date of Award:

12-2019

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Renee V. Galliher

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Melanie Domenech Rodríguez

Third Advisor:

Melissa Tehee

Abstract

Ethnic minorities often experience microaggressions that cause psychological distress and increase health risks. Bystander interventions are good ways to intervene when microaggressions take place and provide emotional support for ethnic minority targets. White interveners and interventions that pose low threats to White aggressors are perceived more positively than ethnic minority interveners and interventions that are more confrontational and direct. Furthermore, a support-based intervention that validates White aggressors’ good intention and effort without judgement may help White aggressors feel less defensive and more receptive to the intervention. Asian Americans face unique microaggressive themes and their racial experiences are influenced by the stereotype that they are model minorities. Asian Americans may prefer the supportive interventions because they are congruent with Asian cultural values such as relational harmony.

The current set of studies assessed the effect of different intervention formats (high threat, low threat, support based) and race of interveners (Asian vs. White) on Asian American targets and White witnesses’ emotional change, perceptions of the intervention, and willingness for future interracial interactions. Among three intervention formats, Asian American targets perceived the intervener and aggressor least negatively in the support intervention. Asian American targets perceived the intervener least positively, whereas White witnesses perceived intervener most negatively in the high-threat intervention. White witnesses perceived the intervener more positively and had more interests in making friends with them when they are White than Asian in high-threat and supportive interventions. White witnesses’ favorable perceptions of aggressor were only influenced by a high degree of racial colorblindness. Overall, the support approach seems to be the most socially appropriate and accepting bystander intervention strategy to intervene in microaggressions targeted at Asian Americans. The high-threat approach is likely to damage interveners’ social image, especially when the intervener is Asian.

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