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Journal Article


Williams MT. Behav. Ther. 2021; 52(3): 709-719.


(Copyright © 2021, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Publisher Elsevier Publishing)






Most efforts to understand microaggressions have examined affected group members, but little work has been done to understand the motivations and characteristics of offenders. The purpose of this study was to determine whether microaggressions are best conceptualized as a form of aggression, as per common definitions advanced in social psychology, by examining correlations between propensity to commit microaggressions and aggressive tendencies. This cross-sectional study was conducted using MTurk Prime to survey a sample of White and Black adults across the United States (N = 610). Measures administered included the Cultural Cognitions and Actions Scale (CCAS) to assess the likelihood of committing microaggressions, Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire (BPAQ), Inventory of Hostility and Suspicious Thinking (IHS), Overt-Covert Aggression Inventory (OCAI), and the Positive and Negative Affectivity Schedule (PANAS). The CCAS was found to be highly and significantly positively correlated with all three measures of aggression. There was a significant negative correlation between Black participants' ratings of microaggressive interactions being racist and White participants' likelihood of engaging in those same interactions. There was a significant positive correlation between negative affectivity and the propensity of White participants to commit microaggressions. In a regression predicting microaggressive propensity from aggressive tendencies, the BPAQ was highly significant, whereas negative affectivity was not.

FINDINGS indicate that microaggressions represent aggression and hostility on the part of offenders and a form of aggressive behavior that is generally socially unacceptable. Future research should explore the relationship between the many forms of microaggressions and aggression among different groups.

Language: en


hostility; affect; aggression; ethnic differences; microaggressions


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