Racial/ethnic discrimination: Dimensions and relation to mental health symptoms in a marginalized Urban American population

Dorothy Chin, Tamra B. Loeb, Muyu Zhang, Honghu Liu, Michele Cooley-Strickland, Gail E. Wyatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


That racial/ethnic discrimination has adverse physical and psychological consequences, including stress, anxiety, depression, and their attendant health effects, is well documented. However, the particular dimensions within the broad construct of discrimination and their role in mental health are less well understood. This study investigates the dimensions of discrimination and explores their relation to depression and posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms. Using the Brief Perceived Ethnic/ Racial Discrimination Questionnaire-Community Version, discrimination experiences were assessed among a community sample of African American and Latinx participants (N = 500). Factor analyses revealed 4 dimensions: Social Rejection, Stereotyping, Direct Threats/Attacks, and Police Mistreatment. In multivariate analyses, full regression models were significantly related to PTS and depression symptoms. Among the individual predictors, Social Rejection and ethnicity (Latinx) uniquely contributed to PTS symptoms in men, whereas Stereotyping and Direct Threat/Attack were associated with PTS symptoms for women. In regards to depressive symptoms, income, ethnicity (Latinx), and Social Rejection were significant predictors for men, while Social Rejection had an independent contribution for women. Thus, social rejection emerged as a significant unique predictor in 3 of the four models, suggesting that social ostracism may be a particularly harmful aspect of discrimination. Implications of these findings include the use of proactive and intervention strategies that emphasize a sense of belonging and mitigate the effects of exclusion and rejection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)614-622
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Depressive symptoms
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Racial/ethnic discrimination
  • Social rejection
  • Stereotyping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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