Date of Award

12-31-2015

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Lizabeth Roemer

Second Advisor

Laurel Wainwright

Third Advisor

Tahirah Abdullah

Abstract

Race-related stress refers to the individual, group, or institutional dynamics of race that take a toll on the individual or group resources (Harrell, 2000). Discrimination is a frequently occurring form of race-related stress, and is reportedly experienced by up to 98% of people of color annually (see Alvarez, Juang, & Liang). Research on race-related stress has consistently found positive associations with depression and anxiety (Klonoff et al, 1999) and lower quality of life (Utsey, et al, 2002). Research has found that socially stigmatized groups also experience higher rates of social anxiety disorders compared to non-stigmatized counterparts (Pachankis & Goldfrield, 2006), and suggest that experiences of discrimination are related to higher rates of social anxiety among Black Americans (Levine et al, 2014). Little research has examined coping strategies that may help buffer against anxiety within the context of experiences of discrimination among people of color generally.

Within the general coping literature, cognitive reappraisal and acceptance are forms of coping that have been associated with positive mental health outcomes. However, few studies have examined the association of these coping styles with race-related stress, and none have looked at the effectiveness of these coping styles as a buffer against negative mental health outcomes.

The overall aims of this study were to examine the relationship between race-related stress and social anxiety. Furthermore, we examined the impact of acceptance and cognitive reappraisal in response to racist events on the relationship between race-related stress and social anxiety. We found that racial discrimination and microaggressions had significant positive associations with social fears and avoidance. However, contrary to predictions, acceptance in response to racist events did not significantly moderate the relations between discrimination or microaggressions and social anxiety. However, acceptance in response to racist events did have a significant negative main effect on social fears. Additionally, contrary to predictions, systemic attribution in response to racist events did not moderate the relations between discrimination or microaggressions and social anxiety. Unexpectedly, systemic attribution in response to racist events was a significant positive predictor of social fear and avoidance. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.

Comments

Free and open access to this Campus Access Thesis is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a Healey Library (UMass Boston) barcode may gain access to this thesis through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global. If you have a Healey Library barcode and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.

Share

COinS