Race-related stress, racial socialization, and African American adolescent adjustment: Examining the mediating role of racial identity

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Child and Family Studies


Ambika Krishnakumar


African-American, Stress, Racial, Socialization, Adolescent, Adjustment

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Developmental Psychology | Family, Life Course, and Society | Psychology | Race and Ethnicity | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


For African Americans, discrimination is prevalent and causes a great deal of stress, which has been associated with negative psychological outcomes. Using three theoretical perspectives, multidimensional model of racial identity, cultural ecological perspective, and critical race theory, the mediating role of racial identity in the effects of race-related stress and racial socialization on depression and self-esteem among African American adolescents was examined. One hundred and fifty-two African American students attending a public high school in a northeastern city in the United States completed a demographic questionnaire, Index of Race-Related Stress, Adolescent Report of Racial Socialization Scale, Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity, Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Results indicated that higher levels of race-related stress were related to more symptoms of depression. Higher levels of racial identity were associated with fewer symptoms of depression and lower self-esteem. Racial socialization was not directly associated with self-esteem or depression. Higher levels of racial socialization were associated with higher levels of racial identity. The results suggest that racism has negative psychological effects on African American adolescents. However, when highly identified with their race, these effects are defused. Receiving frequent messages about how to manage racist encounters facilitates the development of a positive racial identity, which leads to fewer symptoms of depression.


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