Los Angeles, CA (June 24, 2011) -- Using incense or lighting a candle may seem like good ways to let go of racial stress, but a recent study found that might not be the case in terms of racial tension among women. In fact, some coping strategies employed by African-American women may actually increase their stress instead of alleviate it, according to a recent study from Psychology of Women Quarterly (published by SAGE on behalf of the Society for the Psychology of Women, Division 35 of the American Psychological Association).
Race-related stress has been studied extensively. This new research looks at the various methods of coping with the effects of race-related stress among African-American women to determine whether the use of various methods of coping were more successful. Coping strategies were categorized as:
- Collective-centered coping, such as asking for advice from elders or the community
- Cognitive-emotional coping, such as seeking out people who could draw out emotions like laughter or happiness
- Spiritual-centered coping, such as prayer
- Ritual-centered coping, such as lighting a candle
"I expected that higher use of coping efforts would reduce the severity of psychological outcomes associated with individual race-related stress," wrote Tawanda Greer, the study's author. However, the outcomes were surprising. The results showed that the use of one particular method of coping, the use of ritual-centered coping, actually increased stress levels.
"African American women are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of race-related stress, given their socially constructed identities as African Americans and as women," wrote Greer. "Thus, it is critical to the overall well-being of African American women that coping efforts are identified that assist in alleviating the psychological impacts associated with race and the intersection of race- and gender-related challenges."
The article "Coping Strategies as Moderators of the Relation Between Individual Race-Related Stress and Mental Health Symptoms for African American Women" in Psychology of Women Quarterly is available free for a limited time at: http://pwq.
An interview with the author of the article, Tawanda Greer, conducted by Dr. Jan D. Yoder, editor of Psychology of Women Quarterly is available at: http://pwq.
Psychology of Women Quarterly (PWQ) is a feminist, scientific, peer-reviewed journal that publishes empirical research, critical reviews and theoretical articles that advance a field of inquiry, brief reports on timely topics, teaching briefs, and invited book reviews related to the psychology of women and gender. The journal publishes information about feminist psychology, body image, violence against women, international gender concerns, sexism, sexuality, physical and mental well being, career development, and more. The journal is the official journal of The Society for the Psychology of Women, Division 35 of the American Psychological Association.
The Society for the Psychology of Women was established in 1973 as Division 35 of the American Psychological Association. The Society is devoted to providing an organizational base for all feminists, women and men of all national origins who are interested in teaching, research, or practice in the psychology of women. Our purpose is to promote feminist scholarship and practice, and to advocate action toward public policies that advance equality and social justice.
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