Reducing Microaggressions & Promoting Racial Harmony

Cultural Cognitions and Actions Survey Validation Study

Microaggressions, or brief, everyday exchanges that communicate denigrating messages, are often the primary source of racist experiences for people of color. Often referred to as "everyday racism," they are a major source of stress in daily life and also are a barrier to mental health care. Their prevalence and impact on the wellbeing of ethnic/racial minorities make microaggressions an important target for research and intervention.

While there have been several measures developed to assess the impact of microaggressions from the perspective of the victim, no measures have attempted to determine the likelihood of committing microaggressions from the perspective of a potential perpetrator. The Cultural Cognitions & Actions Scale (CCAS) has been developed and is currently being validated for use at UConn, University of Washington, and Bastyr Medical School. The CCAS will have many uses, one important use being for the evaluation of diversity interventions intended to reduce tendencies to microaggress.

Examples of microaggressions from our focus groups.

Project Team: Linda Oshin, Alexis Colins

Racial Harmony Workshop Study

College is an important time for young adults to develop necessary skills in interacting with people of a different race or ethnicity. Microaggressions are often a primary source of racist experiences for minority college students, who report that they experience them on a day-to-day basis. Due to their prevalent nature, microaggressions have become a target for intervention to reduce racial tensions and enhance the quality of life of minority students on college campuses.

Many college campus have attempted to address the prevalence of racist experiences and microaggressions on campus through required diversity workshops. Many of these workshops, however, lack any scientific foundation or evidence of positive outcomes. The objective of the Racial Harmony Workshop study, is to design, administer, and evaluate a workshop-style intervention for the reduction of racial microaggressions using behavioral science principles. The workshop was developed based on social-cognitive theories on prejudice reduction, such as the contact hypothesis, a clinical behavioral science approach to effective training and behavior change, and from research on cross-group friendships and social connection.

We piloted the Racial Harmony Workshop and then conducted the workshop for college students in experimental and control conditions on Saturday 3/25/17. We are working on data analysis and plan to report results this fall.

Project Team: Linda Oshin, Alexis Colins, Tim Michaels, Terence Ching, Connor Gallik

In the Media

Deangelis, T. (2016, February). Envisioning a better world. Monitor on Psychology, 47(2), 79-82.

NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt. (2017, September 13). Microaggressions and Racist Beliefs. KING 5 News. Seattle-Tacoma.