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Why is discrimination stressful? The mediating role of cognitive appraisal.

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California State University, Los Angeles, CA 90032, USA.


This study attempts to shed light on past findings that experiences of racial and gender discrimination are associated with poor psychological and physical health outcomes by investigating the role of cognitive appraisal as a mediator of the relationship between experiences of discrimination and affective stress reactions. African American female college students (N = 115) imagined themselves in an audiotaped scenario in which they overheard 2 European American male classmates make negative evaluations of them. Participants then completed measures of causal attributions, cognitive appraisal, and affective stress reactions. Multiple regression analyses supported the hypotheses that attributions to racism and to discrimination that combines racism and sexism were associated with increased stress reactions. This relationship was mediated by cognitive appraisals of centrality.

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