The Role of Meaning Making in Outcomes of Racial Discrimination
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Stress is most often misconstrued as purely negative. This is particularly the case in relation to the stress caused by racial discrimination and the overwhelming evidence of its negative outcomes. However, stress does not exclusively have harmful physical and psychological effects. An emerging area of study called “Stress Related Growth” focuses on the positive benefits that result from responses to a particular stressful experience (Siegel & Schrimshaw, 2000). There is much room for variability in outcomes of race-related stress, yet this stressor has almost entirely been studied in terms of its deleterious outcomes (Carter, 2007; Harrell, 2000; Sellers & Shelton, 2003). Therefore, this project aimed to explore whether positive responses to racial discrimination are possible, especially in those who successfully integrate their experience into a meaningful narrative. This objective was carried out by administering a series of questionnaires assessing individuals’ past experiences, their adaptive coping, their psychological well-being and ill-being, and other measures of growth. Through correlations and multiple regression analyses, this exploratory study examined whether stress related growth develops out of experiences of racial discrimination, and, if so, which variables best predicted such growth.
Poster presented at the 2017 Closer Look Research Fair at Franklin and Marshall College