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Am J Public Health. 2013 Dec;103(12):2245-51. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301212. Epub 2013 Apr 18.

Social resistance framework for understanding high-risk behavior among nondominant minorities: preliminary evidence.

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Roni Factor is with the School of Criminology, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel. David R. Williams is with the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health and the Department of African and African-American Studies, Harvard University, Boston, MA. Ichiro Kawachi is with the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University.



The recently developed social resistance framework addresses a widespread pattern in which members of some nondominant minorities tend to engage in various risky and unhealthy behaviors more than the majority group. This pilot study tested the core hypotheses derived from this innovative framework.


We conducted in 2011 a nationally representative Web-based survey of 200 members of a nondominant minority group (African Americans) and 200 members of a majority group (Whites).


The preliminary findings supported the main premises of the framework and suggested that nondominant minorities who felt discriminated and alienated from society tended also to have higher levels of social resistance. Those with higher levels of social resistance also engaged more in risky and unhealthy behaviors-smoking, drinking, and nonuse of seat belts-than did those with lower levels of social resistance. These associations were not found in the majority group.


These preliminary results supported the framework and suggested that social resistance might play a meaningful role in risky and unhealthy behaviors of nondominant minorities, and should be taken into account when trying to reduce health disparities.

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