Theses Doctoral

African Americans and Racial Microaggressions: Coping, Psychological Well-being, and Physical Health

Williams, Chantea D.

There has been a recent surge in research on microaggressions in the lived experiences of persons who are members of historically oppressed and marginalized groups in the U.S. Research on African Americans have identified racial microaggressions such as assumptions of intelligence, assumed criminality, and social/cultural isolation that arise in educational, mental health, community, and work place settings. These incidents are particularly harmful because it is reminder to African Americans of their history of racism and their perpetual second-class status in society. Scholars propose that microaggressive incidents are injurious to targets and this can be reflective in the emotional, behavioral, and cognitive reactions to these events (i.e., microaggressive stressors). Existing research on discrimination and well-being suggests that racial discrimination contributes to disparities in mental and physical health. However, there is a need for more research to understand the impact of subtle, ambiguous racism and to identify effective strategies for buffering the effects of microaggressions.
The present study investigated microaggressions experienced by African Americans, the correlation to psychological and physical health outcomes for those who report microaggressions, and coping as potential buffer to the effects of these events. A correlational analysis and multiple regression analysis examined these relationships for a sample of 268 African American men and women. The results indicated support for the theory on the deleterious effects of microaggressions with the relationship between microaggressions and outcomes for psychological and physical health among African Americans. The study contributes to the literature on microaggressions by providing evidence that these encounters are harmful to African Americans. However, the moderation model did not support coping as a buffer to the effects of racial microaggressions, and it is suggested that future research investigate factors that will effectively mitigate the injurious effects of microaggressions.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Sue, Derald W.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 16, 2014