Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-2020

Faculty Advisor(s)

Amy Moors


Microaggressions are common, intentional or unintentional everyday insults towards a minority group (Sue et al., 2007). Despite the everyday occurrences of microaggressions and links with low well-being and academic performance (Keels et al., 2017), there is limited research on effective behaviors to combat microaggressions. This study examined ways students respond to microaggressions based on gender, sexuality, and ethnicity. Building on previous research (Toomey & McGeorge, 2018), we hypothesized that women, ethnic minorities, and sexual minorities will show more effective allyship behaviors than those who do not identify as a minority.We recruited 218 first year college students (74% women, 24% men, 2% trans/non-binary; Mage = 18) to take a three part online study about campus climate. Participants were asked questions about their campus experiences, knowledge about microaggression, and ally behaviors. Questions regarding ally behaviors asked participants their typical reaction to a microaggression, using a scale from 1 (does not describe my typical response) to 5 (describes my typical response extremely well). Questions in this section ranged from ineffective (“laugh”), neutral (“wait to hear/see what the victim does”), to effective (“ask the victim if they are okay”) behaviors. Inconsistent with our hypotheses, we found no effect of gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity on effective or ineffective ally behaviors (B range .06 to .43, p > .05). As for neutral ally behaviors, a statistically significant effect was found for the variable of gender on the use of neutral strategies ( B = 0.39, p < 0.05). Hence, cis-gendered women reported to be more likely to use neutral strategies than cis-gendered men. No significant effect was found for sexuality (B range = -0.0080 to 0.29, p > 0.05). Although our hypotheses were not supported, interesting insights can be drawn from this study. Participants may have felt pressure to answer in socially desirable ways by reporting more allyship behaviors. Furthermore, there were little participants who identified as part of a majority group compared to participants who identified as minorities, which suggests a lack of willingness from more privileged individuals to participate in a study studying micro-aggressions.


Presented at the Spring 2020 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.