Contextualizing behaviors associated with paranoia: Perspectives of black men

Della V. Mosley, Kathryn Haynes Owen, Sharon Scales Rostosky, Robert J. Reese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The sociocultural context of racism influences the behaviors of Black men and may reflect healthy paranoia (Sue, Capodilupo, & Holder, 2008). No published studies however, have directly examined the sociocultural experiences that influence Black men's endorsement of paranoid-like behaviors. An online study was conducted with a nonclinical sample of Black men (N 104) who completed the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III) Paranoid scale (Millon, Millon, Davis, & Grossman, 1994) and reported why they endorsed certain items. Responses to weighted items on this scale were analyzed using modified consensual qualitative research (CQR) procedures (Spangler, Liu, & Hill, 2012). The results indicated that this sample of Black men endorsed items reflective of clinical paranoia because they have life experiences that make them mistrustful. Their item responses were systematically categorized into the following categories: (a) life lessons learned in close relationships, (b) negative experiences at work or school, and (c) experiences living in oppressive contexts. Participant responses also reflected coping strategies categorized as: (d) personal coping (through awareness, acceptance, and meaningmaking), (e) relational coping (through analysis and boundary enforcement), and (f) coping with systemic oppression. These results suggest that adaptive coping with life experiences may be misinterpreted as paranoia when the sociocultural context is not carefully considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-175
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology of Men and Masculinity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.


  • African American men
  • Cultural mistrust
  • MCMI
  • Paranoia
  • Psychopolitical well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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