Is Ignorance Really Bliss? Recognition of Gender Microaggressions and Its Relationships with Gender, Self-Esteem, and Ambivalent Sexism

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Gender microaggressions are brief and common verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, either intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostility to women. Gender microaggressions differ from microaggressions against other groups in that women as the recipients of microaggressions often do not even realize that the encounter is discriminatory. In order to advance the knowledge about the unique nature of gender microaggressions, the current study sought to investigate the differences in outcomes and attitudes between those who recognize microaggressions and those who do not. There were 174 participants who came from a small, liberal arts university. An online survey format was used to gather data from the participants. The survey included six microaggression vignettes, demographic questions, and four previously established scales to measure body image, self-esteem, ambivalent sexism, and social desirability. Analysis revealed that women recognized gender microaggressions more often than men. Also, results showed a positive correlation between self-esteem and recognition of gender microaggressions and a negative correlation between this recognition and hostile and ambivalent sexism. Possible explanations and implications for these findings are discussed.


Advisor: Dr. Lisa Platt

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