Racial identity, racial discrimination, perceived stress, and psychological distress among African American young adults

J Health Soc Behav. 2003 Sep;44(3):302-17.


This study examines the direct and indirect relationships among racial identity, racial discrimination, perceived stress, and psychological distress in a sample of 555 African American young adults. A prospective study design was used to assess the influence of two dimensions of racial identity attitudes (i.e., centrality and public regard) on other study variables to investigate the relationship between racial identity attitudes and psychological distress. The results show some evidence of a direct relationship between racial centrality and psychological distress, as well as evidence of indirect relationships for both centrality and public regard through the impact of racial discrimination and perceived stress. In addition, racial centrality was both a risk factor for experiencing discrimination and a protective factor in buffering the negative impact of discrimination on psychological distress. Results are discussed within the context of identifying multiple pathways to psychological well-being for African American young adults within the context of racial discrimination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prejudice*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Social Identification*
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology*