Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Counseling and Human Development

Degree Program

Counseling and Personnel Services, PhD

Committee Chair

McCubbin, Laurie

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Mitchell, Amanda

Committee Member

Mitchell, Amanda

Committee Member

Washington, Ahmad

Committee Member

Immekus, Jason

Author's Keywords

microaggressions; racial trauma; BIPOC graduate students; BIPOC early career professionals; psychological well-being; ethnic-racial socialization


While there is increasing mainstream focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) amongst U.S. college campuses, institutional racism and everyday racist events continue to be common experiences for Black/Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students (Bartz, 2019; Noltemeyer et al., 2012; Pieterse et al., 2010; Regis, 2016; Vaishnav, 2020). Research has shown that subtle, everyday racist slights, known as microaggressions, can have a substantial effect on the mental health and functioning of BIPOC, leading to the development of posttraumatic stress and to negative impacts on psychological well-being (Abdullah et al., 2021; Le et al., 2021; Lui & Quezada, 2019; Seaton et al., 2011). However, less is known about the mechanism through which these impacts can occur. The present study examined whether race-based traumatic stress mediated the relationship between microaggressions and two outcome variables of posttraumatic stress and psychological well-being. A significant indirect effect of race-based traumatic stress was found for both outcome variables, indicating that microaggressions influenced posttraumatic stress and psychological well-being through the mechanism of race-based traumatic stress. This study also examined whether ethnic-racial socialization, or messages that instill cultural pride and prepare one for bias, functioned as a protective factor by moderating the relationships between microaggressions and the two outcomes. No significant conditional effect was found, suggesting that ethnic-racial socialization did not function as a buffer against the effect of microaggressions on the outcome variables. Future research directions as well as clinical and programmatic implications are discussed.