Date of Award

12-14-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Eric R. Wright

Second Advisor

Mathew Gayman

Third Advisor

Katherine Masyn

Fourth Advisor

Kisha B. Holden

Abstract

The Strong Black Woman Schema (SBWS) refers to the collective believes, behaviors, resources and responses Black women are socialized to embody. The SBWS was developed as a positive counterimage to the negative stereotypes of Black women, such as the mammy or the jezebel, and is an important image among Black women. Observations suggest that the SBWS may affect how Black women experience and interpret stress and mental illness. I assert the SBWS may serve as one comprehensive explanation for the mental health outcomes observed for Black women. Qualitative and quantitative studies have identified a set of characteristics (i.e. strength, emotion regulation, caretaking) related to the schema. However, scales developed to measure the schema lack the ability to isolate adequately a unique typology for Black women. I argue that the SBWS is representative of a specific compilation of psychosocial resources (i.e. mastery, self-efficacy, resilience, self-esteem) representative of the cultural response to historical experiences of racism and sexism. I explore how the SBWS influences the reporting of depressive symptoms, depression and anxiety through a secondary data analysis of African American, Caribbean Black and White American women using data from the National Survey of American Life. Through a three part analysis, I answer the following questions: 1) Is a compilation of psychosocial measures an appropriate measure of the Strong Black Woman Schema? 2) What sociodemographic factors influence distinct typologies reflective of at least one uniquely Black form of the Strong Black Woman Schema? And 3) Does the Strong Black Woman Schema influence depressive symptons, depression, and anxiety? Results of this study clarify how socio-cultural aspects of oppression influence the mental health of Black women.

Available for download on Thursday, August 29, 2019

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