The impact of racial discrimination and coping strategies on internalizing symptoms in African American youth. Academic Article uri icon


  • The current study examined the impact of racial discrimination stress on internalizing symptoms and coping strategies in a sample of 268 African American early adolescents (mean age = 12.90; 56% female) from low-income communities. Information about discrimination stress, coping, and internalizing symptoms was obtained via adolescents' self-report. It was predicted that discrimination stress would be positively associated with depression and anxiety, as well as culturally-specific coping. Finally, culturally-relevant coping and mainstream coping were examined as moderators of the association between discrimination stress and internalizing symptoms. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that discrimination stress was positively associated with depression and anxiety and predicted culturally-relevant coping while controlling for mainstream coping. Communalistic coping moderated the association between discrimination and anxiety, but demonstrated a vulnerability function by increasing anxiety at high levels of discrimination. The results highlight the salience of racial discrimination for African American adolescents and the importance of considering culturally-specific coping behaviors.

published proceedings

  • J Youth Adolesc

author list (cited authors)

  • Gaylord-Harden, N. K., & Cunningham, J. A.

citation count

  • 158

complete list of authors

  • Gaylord-Harden, Noni K||Cunningham, Jamila A

publication date

  • April 2009