Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Melanie M. Domenech Rodríguez


Melanie M. Domenech Rodríguez


Renée V. Galliher


Scott C. Bates


Melissa Tehee


Steven Camicia


The racial and ethnic makeup of college is becoming more diverse as the general trend heads towards more bachelor's degrees being conferred to ethnic minority students. However, ethnic minority students often experience racial and ethnic microaggressions (REMAs) on campus either in the classroom or in the dorms. REMAs are subtle, chronic, and negative verbal and nonverbal exchanges that communicate hostility, degradation, or dismissiveness towards a member of an ethnic minority group. From the literature, REMAs have been found to impact both White and ethnic minority students and both White and ethnic minority professors commit microaggressions towards student of color. In addition, a person's awareness of race and racial dynamics, along with empathy for persons of other cultural groups, and how one identifies ethnically are often linked with REMA.

Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory was used as a framework to conceptualize the research and make sense of findings. The present study focused on determining if the impacts of microaggressions differed based on the ethnic identity of the participant or of the professor that commits the microaggression. A national sample of 171 White American students and 204 non-White students were recruited. Each of the students were randomly assigned to either an overt or covert microaggression condition or a neutral race-based interaction condition. In each condition, they read vignettes that depicted a student-instructor interaction, rated each interaction from positive to negative, and briefly justified each rating. Participants also rated their microaggression experiences, microaggressions witnessed, colorblind racial attitudes, ethnocultural empathy, and ethnic identity. White and ethnic minority students did not differ in their ratings of professor behavior or impact of microaggressions on their affect. However, in the overt microaggression condition White professors were still viewed more positively, and for White participants, their positive affect decreased significantly compared to their ethnic minority counterparts. These results largely align with past research and provide evidence for the need to increase the detection and intervention of microaggressions in the classroom.



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