Testing hypersensitive responses: Ethnic minorities are not more sensitive to microaggressions, they just experience them more frequently

West, Keon. 2019. Testing hypersensitive responses: Ethnic minorities are not more sensitive to microaggressions, they just experience them more frequently. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 45(11), pp. 1619-1632. ISSN 0146-1672 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Racial microaggressions have attracted significant empirical attention and have been associated with profound negative effects. However, some argue against the importance of microaggressions arguing that (some) responses to microaggressions merely reflect “hypersensitivity” to trivial events among certain ethnic minority individuals. Three studies tested this hypersensitivity hypothesis. In two cross-sectional studies with dissimilar samples (N1 = 130, N2 = 264), ethnic minorities reported experiencing more microaggressions than ethnic majorities did, and microaggressions predicted less life satisfaction. However, contrary to the hypersensitivity hypothesis, minority identity did not moderate this relationship. In a randomized, controlled experiment (N3 = 114), White and ethnic minority participants reported their positive and negative affect before and after recalling either a microaggression or a control event. Recalling microaggressions reduced positive affect and increased negative affect, but this was also not moderated by minority identity. Implications for the hypersensitivity hypothesis, and microaggressions research, are discussed.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167219838790

Keywords:

microaggressions, hypersensitivity, racism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology

Dates:

DateEvent
20 February 2019Accepted
26 March 2019Published Online
1 November 2019Published

Item ID:

26112

Date Deposited:

28 Mar 2019 15:20

Last Modified:

24 Feb 2020 23:17

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/26112

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