Date of Award

8-8-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Don Davis, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Cirleen DeBlaere, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jane Brack, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Melissa Zeligman, Ph.D.

Abstract

Race is a source of trauma that may result in a wide range of mental and physical health consequences (Pieterse, Todd, Neville, & Carter, 2012). In Chapter 1, I conduct a systematic review of research on race-based traumatic stress. Although studies have documented the link between perceived discrimination and race-based traumatic stress, there is a need to explore factors that can amplify or buffer this relationship. Thus, in Chapter 2, I examine three theorized moderators of the relationship between racial discrimination and race-based traumatic stress: cyberracism, racial/ethnic identity, and trait forgivingness. Data was collected from a sample of 397 African American community-based participants using Mechanical Turk. Results from the study revealed that perceptions of racism were significant and positively correlated to race-based traumatic stress symptoms (r = .62, p < .01). As predicted, cyberracism strengthened this relationship. Forgivingness buffered this relationship. Against my prediction, regardless of level of racial/ethnic identity, there was a similar association between perceived racial discrimination and race-based traumatic stress. I discuss implications for future research. I also discuss practical implications for practitioners, especially regarding habits of engaging social media during periods of intensified racial conflict on social media.

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