“Strong Claims, Inadequate Evidence”

From Emory University professor Scott Lilienfeld’s recent paper on “microaggressions”:

The microaggression concept has recently galvanized public discussion and spread to numerous college campuses and businesses. I argue that the microaggression research program (MRP) rests on five core premises, namely, that microaggressions (1) are operationalized with sufficient clarity and consensus to afford rigorous scientific investigation; (2) are interpreted negatively by most or all minority group members; (3) reflect implicitly prejudicial and implicitly aggressive motives; (4) can be validly assessed using only respondents’ subjective reports; and (5) exert an adverse impact on recipients’ mental health. A review of the literature reveals negligible support for all five suppositions. … Although the MRP has been fruitful in drawing the field’s attention to subtle forms of prejudice, it is far too underdeveloped on the conceptual and methodological fronts to warrant real-world application. I … call for a moratorium on microaggression training programs and publicly distributed microaggression lists pending research to address the MRP’s scientific limitations.

Columbia University professor Musa Al-Gharbi’s response to Lilienfeld’s paper provides some edifying context.

This is a very contentious topic on campuses, as you can imagine. This New York times story from last fall gives you a good picture.

h/t to C on clarissasblog

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