Stress and coping in interracial contexts: The influence of race-based rejection sensitivity and cross-group friendship in daily experiences of health

J Soc Issues. 2014 Jun;70(2):256-278. doi: 10.1111/josi.12059.


We examined the interplay of psychosocial risk and protective factors in daily experiences of health. In Study 1, the tendency to anxiously expect rejection from racial outgroup members, termed race-based rejection sensitivity (RS-race), was cross-sectionally related to greater stress-symptoms among Black adults who reported fewer cross-race friends but not among participants who had more cross-race friends. In Study 2, we experimentally manipulated the development of a same- versus cross-race friendship among Latino/a-White dyads prior to collecting daily experiences of stress-symptoms using a diary methodology. While RS-race predicted more psychosomatic symptoms in the same-race friendship condition, RS-race was unrelated to symptomatology among participants who made a cross-race friend. These findings suggest that experiences of intergroup stress can spill over into everyday life in the absence of positive contact, but cross-race friendships may be a resource that mitigates the expression of interracial stress.

Keywords: Chronic stress; cross-group friendship; health; psychosomatic symptomatology; race-based rejection sensitivity.