Date of Award

12-16-2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Gabriel Kuperminc

Second Advisor

Ciara Glover

Third Advisor

Laura McKee

Fourth Advisor

Ja'Nina Garrett-Walker

Abstract

Black emerging adults (ages 18 – 25) often encounter race-related stressors, such as discrimination. Racial socialization has been theorized to help individuals cope with race-related stress (Harrell, 2000), but the literature focuses primarily on parents despite long-standing calls to investigate additional socialization agents, such as peers (Hughes, McGill, Ford, & Tubbs, 2011; Priest et al., 2014). The purpose of this study was to examine how parent and peer racial socialization messages contribute to the types of coping strategies Black emerging adults use when faced with discrimination.

Self-identified Black college students (N = 202; Mage = 19.63) completed measures of perceived discrimination, racial socialization, and coping strategies used in response to specific discriminatory events. Results from regression analyses revealed that parental socialization was associated with problem solving, whereas peer socialization was associated with seeking social support. Racial socialization was unrelated to avoidance coping. Using latent profile analysis, four patterns of racial socialization experiences were identified and were categorized based on the congruence of messages from parents and peers. The Congruent High and Congruent Low profiles included participants who reported similar frequencies of racial socialization messages from both socialization agents. The Incongruent Low Peer and Incongruent Low Parent profiles were characterized by contrasting frequencies of messages from parents and peers. Black emerging adults with a Congruent Low profile were more likely to use avoidance coping and less likely to seek social support or use problem solving to cope with discrimination than those in the other profiles. Results indicate that receiving at least a moderate frequency of racial socialization messages from any socialization agent is associated with more adaptive forms of coping.

Findings from this study highlight the importance of both parents and peers to the racial socialization process during emerging adulthood. In particular, the results suggest that parents and peers each play a unique role in helping young adults cope with discrimination. Building on this study, future research should continue to include peers as socialization agents and examine associations between racial socialization, coping with discrimination, and the well-being of Black emerging adults.

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