Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Joseph R. Morris

Second Advisor

Dr. Patrick H. Munley

Third Advisor

Dr. Douglas Davidson


Race related stress, cognitive flexibility, health, African American men, racism, mental health


African American men have one the highest preventable mortality and morbidity rates in the United States (Rich, 2000; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2015). Moreover, there is substantial health disparity between African American men and White men in the United States (Smedley, Stith, & Nelson, 2003). It has been stated that pervasive racism and discrimination are the most significant contributors for the disparity. Studies have shown race-related stress, which is derived from experiencing racism, discrimination or having internalized feelings as the result of an individual’s racial status, has been associated with blood pressure, emotional distress, and physical health (Paradies, 2006). This study investigates the role of race- related stress and stigma consciousness, another contributing source of this type of stress, and their relationship to African American men’s health. In addition, this study seeks to investigate if cognitive flexibility moderates race- related stress and stigma consciousness’s relationship to African American men’s health.

Participants comprised of 135 African American men were asked about their experiences with race-related stress. Participants’ stigma consciousness, cognitive flexibility and health were also assessed. A series of hierarchical multiple regressions found that race-related stress and stigma consciousness significantly predicted the health and mental health problems in a sample of African American men. The results also revealed that cognitive flexibility moderated race- related stress’s relationship to health and mental health in African American men. Limitations of this study are discussed along with future recommendations.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access