Racial discrimination has been linked to psychological distress among people of color. The degree to which psychological distress is associated with racial discrimination experiences varies across individuals. Racial identity may be one key set of individual difference factors that can influence how discrimination impacts psychological distress, but existing empirical findings remain mixed on the moderating role of racial identity in the links between discrimination and distress. The present study leveraged virtual reality technology to experimentally invoke experiences of discrimination. The study was aimed to (1) determine the causal effects of racial discrimination on psychological distress (i.e., stress and negative affect), and (2) characterize the moderating roles of the dimensions of racial identity in the links between discrimination and emotions. Participants included 185 English-speaking ethnic minority adults (Mage = 23.92, SDage = 1.35). We found that real-time experiences of racial discrimination in immersive virtual environments were linked to greater stress and negative affect. We found that racial identity centrality, public regard, and private regard did not moderate the links between discrimination and psychological distress. Findings have implications for current and future understanding of how individuals of color may be negatively impacted by or protected from the harmful experiences of discrimination.
P. Priscilla Lui
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Gobrial, Sarah, "Moderating Roles of Racial Identity in the Effects of Racial Discrimination on Distress" (2022). Psychology Theses and Dissertations. 40.