Race-Related Stress and Hopelessness in African Americans: Moderating Role of Social Support



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The disparaging mental health outcomes associated with racial discrimination are well documented in the scientific literature. Despite strong links to severe mental illness, hopelessness is largely overlooked as a consequence of discrimination in existing empirical research. Building upon the available literature, the current study was intended to explore the association of race-related stress and hopelessness in African American adults. Utilizing a stress, appraisal, and coping framework, multiple dimensions of social support were examined as plausible protective factors against the negative effects of race-related stress. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted to assess the main and interactive effects of race-related stress and various dimensions of social support (appraisal, belonging, and self-esteem) in relation to reported symptoms of hopelessness. The three dimensions of perceived social support were significantly associated with self-reported symptoms of hopelessness, with self-esteem social support emerging as the strongest predictor. The interactive effects of race-related stress and social support were non-significant, though the interaction of self-esteem social support and race-related stress approached significance. Findings suggest the need for consideration of additional culturally-relevant factors that may serve to mitigate the effects of race-related stress among African Americans. Additionally, having a collective sense of moral for one’s race group (via self-esteem social support) may promote resilience in the face of discrimination, though more work is needed to confirm this association. Implications of the current findings, limitations, and directions for future investigation are discussed.



Race-related stress, Discrimination, African Americans, Hopelessness, Social support