Relationship of racial stressors to blood pressure responses and anger expression in black college students

Health Psychol. 1989;8(5):541-56. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.8.5.541.


The physiological effects of racism, as a stressor, were examined as they related to blood pressure (BP) and anger experiences in Black college students. Current research has failed to consider the stressful effects of racism as a factor contributing to the higher incidence of essential hypertension among Blacks. Twenty-seven Black college students viewed three excerpts showing racist situations involving Blacks; anger-provoking, nonracist situations; and neutral situations. After each scene, BP was taken, and a mood checklist was administered. The Framingham Anger Scale and the Anger Expression Scale were administered. Analyses revealed that BP significantly increased during the presentation of racist stimuli but not of anger-provoking or neutral stimuli. Self-reports of state anger, as measured by the mood checklist, were significant for both the anger-provoking and racist stimuli. BP scores were significantly correlated to the two trait anger measures. Exposure to racist stimuli was associated with BP increases among Blacks. Such cumulative exposure to racism may have important implications for the etiology of essential hypertension.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Anger*
  • Arousal*
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Tests
  • Prejudice*