The Role of Racial Microaggressions, Belongingness, and Coping in African American Psychology Doctoral Students’ Well-being
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology
Edwards, Lisa M.
Melchert, Timothy P.
Tate, Kevin A.
Research has indicated that African American undergraduate students experience racial microaggressions within their university contexts, and these experiences are associated with negative outcomes such as symptoms of depression and anxiety (Cokely, Hall-Clark, & Hicks, 2011; Nadal, 2011; Nadal, et al., 2014). Little is known about the experience of microaggressions and their effects on African American doctoral students, particularly those within the field of psychology. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between racial microaggressions, sense of belonging, coping strategies (problem solving, social support and avoidance), and psychological well-being among African American doctoral students in psychology. Results revealed that every participant had experienced at least one racial microaggression in their doctoral program within the last six months, with the most common types being related to environment and assumptions of inferiority. Contrary to hypotheses, results from a hierarchical multiple regression analyses suggested that racial microaggressions did not significantly predict psychological well-being in this sample. Findings also did not provide evidence for social support, problem solving, avoidance, or sense of belonging as moderators for the negative impact of microaggressions. Overall, the results of this study suggest that African American doctoral students in psychology experience racial microaggressions, but questions remain about the effects of these experiences on psychological well-being. Implications and future research directions are discussed.