Superwoman Schema: a context for understanding psychological distress among middle-class African American women who perceive racial microaggressions

Joi Sheree’ Knighton, Jardin Dogan, Candice Hargons, Danelle Stevens-Watkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Current racial mental health disparities among African American women have been attributed to chronic experiences of race-related stressors. Increased exposure to racism in predominately White spaces may increase reliance on culturally normative coping mechanisms. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between psychological distress, perceived racial microaggressions, and an obligation to show strength/suppress emotions among educated, middle-class African American women. Design: A sample of 243 African American women aged 19–72 years (M = 39.49 years) participated in an online study. Participants completed self-report measures of psychological distress (PHQ-8 and GAD-7), racial microaggressions (IMABI), and modified items from the Stereotypical Roles for Black Women (SRBWS) to assess an obligation to show strength/suppress emotions. Factor analyses were conducted to assess the reliability of the obligation to show strength/suppress emotions subscale in our sample. Descriptive statistics, multiple linear regression, and mediation analyses were also conducted to examine variable associations. Results: Statistical analyses revealed educated, middle-class African American women who endorse an obligation to show strength/suppress emotions with perceived racial microaggressions experienced increased psychological distress. Conclusion: Obligation to show strength/suppress emotion may increase risk for psychological distress among African American women who perceive racial microaggressions. Future research and clinical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)946-962
Number of pages17
JournalEthnicity and Health
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by University of Kentucky [grant number T32DA03520]. The first and second authors were predoctoral fellows funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) T32DA035200 (PI: Rush) and K08DA0322 (PI: Stevens-Watkins) at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine during the completion of this project. The funding agency nor the author's affiliates had a role in study design, data collection or analyses, or preparation and submission of the manuscript. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or other organizations by which the authors are affiliated.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • African American women
  • Superwoman Schema
  • middle-class
  • psychological distress
  • racial microaggressions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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