Understanding the Link Between Multiple Oppressions and Depression Among African American Women: The Role of Internalization

Erika R. Carr, Dawn M. Szymanski, Farah Taha, Lindsey M. West, Nadine J. Kaslow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of our study was to examine the multiple oppression experiences of sexual objectification, racism, and gendered racism as predictors of depressive symptoms among a clinical sample of low-income African American women. In addition, we examined coping with oppression via internalization (i.e., the tendency to attribute responsibility or the cause of an oppressive event to oneself) as a mediator between these three intersecting forms of oppression and depressive symptoms. Participants included 144 African American women who sought some type of mental health treatment at a U.S. southeastern, public, urban, university-affiliated hospital that attends to a primarily indigent and underserved population. The results of our mediational analysis using bootstrapping provided support for a theorized model in which coping with oppressive events via internalization mediated the links between sexual objectification and depression and between racist events and depression but not between gendered racism and depression. In addition, a unique and direct effect of racist events on depression was found. Finally, the four variables in the model accounted for 42% of variance in depression scores. The study includes implications for future research and clinical work such as exploration of other mediators and the importance of comprehensive intake assessments and multicultural/feminist coping interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-245
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Volume38
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2014

Keywords

  • coping behaviors
  • depression
  • objectification
  • racism
  • sexism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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