Category: Cultural Diversity / Vulnerable Populations


Trauma Symptoms and Racial Mistreatment in African Americans

Friday, November 17
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom E & F, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: African Americans | Trauma | Adult Anxiety
Presentation Type: Symposium


Negative affectivity (or negative emotionality) has been correlated to both the experience of racial discrimination and psychological unwellness, and has been advanced as a potential explanation for their relationship.  We examine the relationship between experiences of racial mistreatment and symptoms of trauma, anxiety, and stress in African Americans when controlling for negative affectivity.



We collected data from 201 undergraduates. Of these, 55.7% were European American, 32.2% were African American, and 12% were Other/Biracial. We collected data on the frequency of ethnic discrimination and resulting stress (General Ethnic and Racial Discrimination Scale – GEDS), frequency of racial microaggresions (Racial Microaggressions Scale – RMAS), ethnic identity (Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure – MEIM), positive and negative affectivity (PANAS in general/trait), somatic anxiety (BAI), and trauma symptoms due to discrimination (Anxiety Symptoms of Discrimination Scale – ASDS).



Linear regression was used to predict the ASDS in African Americans, with the PANAS (in general/trait) positive and negative affectivity scales, MEIM, and RMAS covariates. The overall model was significant (F[4,54]=12.22, p



Negative affectivity in African Americans appears to be significantly related to some but not all perceptions of the experience of discrimination. Microaggressions are a significant predictor of trauma symptoms, and past year ethnic discrimination predicts somatic anxiety above and beyond the effect of negative affectivity. Results support the hypothesis that the experience of racial mistreatment is a cause of anxiety, stress, and traumatization in victims. 

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Trauma Symptoms and Racial Mistreatment in African Americans

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