Theses Doctoral

Exploring how Skin Color and Racial Identity Modify the Relationship between Perceptions of Racism and Psychological Distress among Latinas/os

Victoria, Rodolfo

The field of psychology now minimally disputes that racism is a stressor that significantly impacts the emotional well-being of People of Color. However, this knowledge base has been largely built on data using Black American samples and less on other middle-of-the -spectrum racial groups. Psychological research has also shifted its focus to examine what underlying mechanisms help buffer the negative impact of racism. The current study aimed to expand the body of research on racism by examining the link between experiences of racial discrimination and psychological distress using a Latina/o adult sample. Also, the potential moderating and mediating role of skin color and racial identity status attitudes on the relationship between racial discrimination and psychological distress were examined because of influence these variables have on the racial socialization experiences of Latinas/os. Additional research questions in the current investigation examined the relationship between skin color and experiences of racial discrimination and skin color with racial identity status attitudes.
Participants in the study were 491 adult Latinas/os who participated either online (n = 344) or using a paper-and-pencil (n = 147) version of the questionnaire packet that included the Perceived Racism Scale for Latinas/os (Collado-Proctor, 1999), the People of Color Racial Identity Attitude Scale (Helms, 1995), the Depression-Anxiety-Stress Scale (Lovibond and Lovibond, 1995), the New Immigrant Survey Skin Color Scale (Massey and Martin, 2003), and a Personal Data Sheet. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that experiences of racial discrimination were positively associated with psychological distress. Results found no association between skin color and experiences of racial discrimination but a MANOVA found that "Medium/Brown" skinned participants were more likely to endorse Resistance status attitudes relative to "White" skinned Latinas/os. Lastly, results found no evidence of mediation but found evidence indicating that Dissonance status attitudes moderated the relationship between experiences of racial discrimination and anxiety as an indicator of psychological distress in ways that were theoretically consistent with racial identity theory (i.e., Dissonance status attitudes were positively associated with anxiety that was associated with experiences of racial discrimination).
The findings expand the literature by further demonstrating that experiences of racial discrimination are experienced as a stressor among Latinas/os. The findings also reinforce the stance that psychological researches need to continue to examine how individual and group-related variables interact with experiences of racism that might buffer or enhance the impact of these experiences. Implications for clinical practice as well as future research are reviewed.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Carter, Robert T.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 6, 2014