Mentor:Dr. Yolanda Flores Niemann
Research Topic:Ethnic Identity, Social Support, and Depression among African American University Students
Abstract:While college students are a vulnerable population to psychological distress (PD); African American students face an increased risk of PD due to their marginalized status. Frequent exposure to microaggressions, discrimination, and racial slights can lead to racial battle fatigue, leading to increased psychological distress. Evidence suggests ethnic identity can serve as both a protective and risk factor for PD, potentially increasing resolve in the face of adversity, or conversely leading to hypervigilance. Past work indicates perceived social support (PSS) can minimize the effects of psychological distress, and may be an important factor in the relationship between EI and PD. Our study examines whether PSS (Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support) moderates the relationship between EI (Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure-Revised) and PD (Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale). Participants (N = 445) include African American university students, recruited as part of a larger study of identity and health behaviors. Results indicated that PSS negatively relates to PD, while EI was not significantly related. The interaction between PSS and EI significantly related to PD, such that higher EI and lower PSS predicted higher PD. Our discussion will focus on the role that the specific source of PSS has in this relationship.