Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Renee V. Galliher


Renee V. Galliher


Melissa Tehee


Melanie M. Domenech Rodríguez


Scott C. Bates


Jessica Lucero


Ethnic minorities experience discrimination frequently, especially a subtle form of discrimination called microaggressions-which are linked with poorer mental health. This study examined protective factors against microaggressions. In this study, responding to microaggressions actively (as opposed to ignoring the situation) was linked with better mental health. When use of active coping strategies was low, microaggressions were associated with lower self-esteem and higher depression and anxiety. Alternatively, when use of active coping styles was high, microaggressions were associated with higher self-esteem and less depression, anxiety, and drug use. Responding to microaggressions is a disengaged way (such as attempting to ignore or avoid the situation) was consistently linked with worse mental health, including lower self-esteem and higher depression, anxiety, and substance use.

Participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions to examine emotional impacts of microaggressions. Experimental group participants wrote about recent microaggressions, whereas control condition participants wrote about a neutral activity. Participants who wrote about microaggressions reported higher negative emotions. Higher use of active coping styles was associated with higher positive emotions. Alternatively, when the use of disengaged coping strategies was high, positive emotions decreased among experimental condition participants. Results suggest that the healthiest way to manage discrimination is to use active coping (such as addressing or attempting to change the situation, seeking support from friends or family, trying to view the other person's motives and behavior in a more positive light, or using humor to lighten the situation) rather than disengaged (such as distraction, denial, avoidance, or using drugs).



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Psychology Commons