Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

Clinical Psychology, PhD

Committee Chair

Williams, Monnica

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Brooms, Derrick

Committee Member

Brooms, Derrick

Committee Member

Mast, Benjamin

Committee Member

Rosen, Paul

Committee Member

Stetson, Barbara

Author's Keywords

African Americans; proactive coping; discrimination; positive psychology


Traditionally, conceptual models of racial discrimination have characterized the reactive experiences of African Americans, particularly identifying how African Americans cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally respond to racial stress. The current study extends beyond the reactive coping experience and identifies nuances in the anticipatory and preparatory coping processes associated with racial discrimination. Methods: 62 African American college students participated in a stress induction experiment that prompted anticipatory judgments of discrimination. The full sample completed quantitative self-report questionnaires about their anticipatory thoughts (SAM; Peacock & Wong, 1990; Roesch & Rowley, 2005), state-based affect (PANAS-X; Watson & Clark, 1994), and proactive coping behaviors (PPCB; adapted from Mallet & Swim, 2009). A subset of the full sample (25 students) completed one-on-one interviews that captured their anticipatory thoughts, feelings, and preparatory behaviors. Results: Threat-oriented thinking and negative affect were experienced in anticipation of racial discrimination; however, the endorsement of challenge-oriented thinking and positive affect were better predictors of how the current sample planned to use proactive coping behaviors to manage the anticipated racial stress. Implications: The current findings expands the discriminatory coping narrative by capturing how the expression of optimism, perceived control, self-confidence, goal attainability, and positive emotion in anticipation of racial discrimination increases one’s intention to implement coping strategies to minimize the impact of racial stress on task completion. Such findings provide cognitive and emotional targets for assessment when attempting to understand how African Americans are preparing themselves to manage anticipated racial stressors.