Graduation Year

2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Kristen Salomon, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Walter Borman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joseph Vandello, PhD.

Keywords

systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, race, discrimination

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to explore the relationship between internalized racism, stereotype threat, self-handicapping, test performance, and cardiovascular responses in Black individuals. Stereotype threat, or apprehension about confirming a negative stereotype, has been shown to lead to self-handicapping, poor academic performance, as well as increased cardiovascular reactivity. Internalized racism, or the acceptance of negative stereotypes about one's group, is a factor that may moderate these relationships. One-hundred nine (84% female, 16% male) Black undergraduates participated in a laboratory study. Half of the participants were put in a stereotype-threatened condition and the other half were in a neutral condition. The participants were permitted unlimited time in which to practice for a verbal test and then were tested on their verbal ability while their blood pressure was monitored. Results indicated that internalized racism moderates the relationship between stereotype threat and systolic blood pressure, but not diastolic blood pressure or heart rate. However, the moderating effect of internalized racism in the relationship between stereotype threat and self-handicapping or test performance was not significant. It seems that individuals who do not accept the negative stereotypes about Blacks as a group experienced increased systolic blood pressure responses in stereotype-threatened situations compared to Black individuals who do accept the negative stereotypes. The implication is that Black individuals who challenge negative stereotypes will feel more stress when placed in situations where they are at risk of confirming those negative stereotypes. This study provides insight into reasons for the variability of cardiovascular disease among Black Americans, who typically experience a higher incidence overall compared to other ethnic groups.

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