Racism experiences and psychological functioning in African American college freshmen: Is racial socialization a buffer?

Mia Smith Bynum, E. Thomaseo Burton, Candace Best

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

101 Scopus citations


Previous research has documented the negative effects of racism on the psychological health of African Americans. However, consideration of racial socialization as a potential buffer against racism experiences has received limited attention. The present study investigated whether two types of parental racial socialization messages reduced the impact of racism on psychological functioning in a sample of 247 African American college freshmen (M = 18.30). Results indicated that students who reported more racism experiences also had poorer levels of psychological functioning as indicated by higher levels of psychological stress and psychological distress. Parental messages emphasizing the use of African American cultural resources to cope with racism reduced the impact of racism on psychological stress only. Cultural pride messages predicted less psychological distress while messages emphasizing the use of cultural resources predicted greater psychological distress. However, neither message type moderated the relationship between racism experiences and psychological distress. These results suggest that racial socialization messages have complex relations to psychological functioning in African American college students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-71
Number of pages8
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2007
Externally publishedYes



  • African Americans
  • College students
  • Psychosocial outcomes
  • Racial socialization
  • Racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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