Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

In the face of racism, distress depends on one's coping method

Date:
April 2, 2010
Source:
San Francisco State University
Summary:
The way people choose to cope with personal experiences of racism influences the distress caused by the encounter, according to a new study of Filipino-American men and women. The study finds that denying or ignoring racial discrimination leads to greater psychological distress, including anxiety and depression, and lowers self-esteem.

The way people choose to cope with personal experiences of racism influences the distress caused by the encounter, according to a new study of Filipino-American men and women. Published today in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, the study finds that denying or ignoring racial discrimination leads to greater psychological distress, including anxiety and depression, and lowers self-esteem.

"Some coping methods are healthier than others for dealing with everyday racism," said Alvin Alvarez, professor of counseling at San Francisco State University. "We found that when people deny or trivialize racist encounters, they can actually make themselves feel worse, amplifying the distress caused by the incident."

The study focused on 'everyday racism' -- subtle, commonplace forms of discrimination, such as being ignored, ridiculed or treated differently. "These are incidents that may seem innocent and small, but cumulatively they can have a powerful impact on an individual's mental health," Alvarez said. "Trying to ignore these insidious incidents could become taxing and debilitating over time, chipping away at a person's spirit."

Alvarez surveyed 199 Filipino-American adults, both men and women, in the San Francisco Bay Area and found that 99 percent of participants had experienced at least one incident of everyday racism in the last year.

The study found that for men, dealing with racism in an active way, such as reporting incidents to authorities or challenging the perpetrator, was associated with decreased distress and increased self esteem. "It is possible that for men, coming up with a plan to respond to racism fosters a 'you can do it' attitude, a sense of empowerment that buffers against distress and feelings of victimhood," Alvarez said.

Coping by confiding in friends and family was found to increase men's psychological distress and lower their self-esteem. The authors believe this surprising finding suggests that seeking social support may not always be helpful -- particularly if talking about racism implies that the situation is unchangeable or if it causes a person distress by having to relive difficult experiences.

For women, although the study found that ignoring racism results in increased distress, no significant correlation was found between active coping methods or confiding in others and psychological distress.

"What's striking is we found that racism is still happening to Filipinos," Alvarez said. "Therapists need to look beyond the frequent portrayal of Asian Americans as model minorities and help clients assess what their best coping strategy could be, depending on their resources, what's feasible and who they could turn to for support."

The authors caution that what makes a healthy coping mechanism is influenced by such factors as socioeconomic status, age, English language capacity and length of residency in the U.S.

The study is published in the April 2010 issue of the Journal of Counseling Psychology. In addition to Alvarez, the study was co-authored by Linda Juang, associate professor of psychology at San Francisco State University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by San Francisco State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alvin Alvarez, Linda Juang. Filipino Americans and Racism: A Multiple Mediation Model of Coping. Journal of Counseling Psychology, April 2010;

Cite This Page:

San Francisco State University. "In the face of racism, distress depends on one's coping method." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100401085344.htm>.
San Francisco State University. (2010, April 2). In the face of racism, distress depends on one's coping method. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100401085344.htm
San Francisco State University. "In the face of racism, distress depends on one's coping method." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100401085344.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins