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Exploring the impacts of racism among a sample of adult African Americans

1 January 2016


This dissertation study was conducted in order to explore the relationship between perceived racism and overall mental health functioning and whether that relationship could be mediated by negative cognitive appraisals of racist events among a sample of adult African Americans. The convenience-based sample involved 18 adult African Americans of diverse demographic location. Simple linear regressions revealed that there is a strong correlation between racism and mental health outcome, particularly when considering a lifetime of cumulative racist encounters. Analyses of mediation revealed that the relationship between experiences of racism and mental health outcome is fully mediated by negative cognitive appraisals of the events. Collectively, this data suggests that although racism itself is a negative and detrimental experience, the impacts of it are much more damaging if the individual interprets racist events to be reflective of something inherently wrong about themselves. Thus, it indicates the importance of instilling resiliency and positive self-esteem in therapeutic contexts with African American clients.


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