Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Amy Naugle, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Scott Gaynor, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Amy Damashek, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Torrey Wilson, Ph.D.


African Americans report extensive experiences of discrimination across a range of individual, institutional, cultural situations, and more than any other marginalized group (RWJF, 2017). The pervasiveness of discrimination keeps Black individuals at risk of severe physiological ills and heightened risk of psychopathology, including onset of depression and racial trauma symptoms (Williams & Mohammed, 2009). This study investigated risk and resilience factors for Black individuals who face racial discrimination in the United States of America by examining whether encounters of discrimination correlated with psychological distress (depression, anxiety) and racial trauma symptoms. Additionally, the study investigated factors (social support, psychological flexibility, and valued living) that predict the impact of racial discrimination on psychological distress and racial trauma symptoms. Correlational analyses were used to determine the relationship among variables and a stepwise multiple regression analysis was used to investigate which factors most strongly predict racial trauma symptoms of discrimination (TSDS). Significant, positive relationship was found between racial trauma symptoms and perceived experiences of discrimination (EDS; r = .525, p <.05) and moderate positive correlation between psychological distress and perceived experiences of discrimination (PHQ9; r=.322, p<.05; GAD-7; r=.378, p<.05). Additionally, psychological inflexibility (AAQ-II) was the most significant predictor for racial trauma symptoms (β = 0.503, p = .000). The findings also confirm that perceived experiences of discrimination predicted racial trauma symptoms (β = 0.315, p =.000). These findings highlight the importance of considering racial discrimination’s impact on Black people’s mental health and the utility of psychological flexibility as a factor that can influence the psychological well-being of African Americans who face discrimination. Future directions include assessing the effectiveness of clinical interventions (e.g., ACT) in increasing psychological flexibility in Black individuals and reducing psychological distress related to discrimination.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Psychology Commons