Racial microaggressions and perceptions of Internet memes

Amanda Williams, Clio Oliver, Katherine Aumer, Chanel Meyers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)
904 Downloads (Pure)


Although more blatant forms of discrimination have declined, racial prejudice continues to manifest itself in subtle ways. For example, People of Color experience racial microaggressions (i.e., subtle slights or ‘put downs’) in their face-to-face interactions (Nadal, 2011) and in online contexts (Clark et al., 2011). This study investigates whether experiencing subtle racial discrimination offline can influence perceptions of online content, specifically racial themed Internet memes. Results indicate that although both People of Color and Whites viewed racial themed memes to be more offensive than non-racial themed memes (control images), for People of Color the ratings of racial themed memes were predicted by previous discrimination; those who reported experiencing more racial microaggressions in everyday settings rated racial themed memes as more offensive. The same pattern of results did not emerge for ratings of non-racial themed memes or for White participants. These results provide initial evidence that experiencing racial microaggressions in offline interactions may lead individuals from racial minority groups to be more likely to perceive racial discrimination in online settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-432
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Early online date30 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Psychological Approaches for Studying Education


  • Memes
  • Internet
  • Racial microaggressions
  • Prejudice
  • Discrimination


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