Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




One hundred African-American women between the ages o f 18 years and 80 years who were born in the United States and for whom English was their primary language were exposed to video taped incidents o f historically accurate racist events from American history. Measures of emotional reactivity including heart rate, blood pressure and measures o f anger and anxiety were taken and the Hollingshead Four Factor Index o f Social Status was used to classify subjects into three socioeconomic levels. The experimental protocol required that subjects be exposed to a period of adaptation followed by a period of exposure to a neutral video stimulus prior to viewing the experimental video. The overall research design was a two factor (3x 3) repeated measures factorial design. The independent variables were the three levels o f socio-economic status and the three periods o f assessment, adaptation, neutral and racial. The results suggested all subjects had an increased emotional response from neutral to the racist period as reflected in the change across dependent variables. Yet the hypothesis that lower SES subjects would respond differently to the racial stimulus compared to higher SES subjects was not supported. Several trends emerged that contradicted previous research. Present findings suggest that higher SES subjects Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. may be more reactive than lower SES subjects in their perception o f racism and physiological reactivity to racist events.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access