Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School


Committee Member

Stephen Jefferson, Ph.D, Chair

Committee Member

Heather Janisse, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tamara Loverich, Ph.D.


The negative psychological consequences of racial prejudice and discrimination in the lives of African Americans have been well documented. Recently, researchers have investigated how racial identity status attitudes may influence the perception of discrimination (i.e., it has been suggested that racial identity may act as a buffer against experiencing negative affect as a consequence of exposure to racial discrimination). While this hypothesis has received increased attention in the literature of late, current studies testing said hypothesis have not examined this association by using the recent advances in the conceptualization of subtle discrimination (i.e., microaggressions). As such, the purpose of this study was to examine whether racial identity status attitudes moderate the relationship between perceived discrimination (quantified using the Racial and Ethnic Microaggressions Scale) and psychological functioning. A secondary hypothesis was that racial identity would mediate the relationship between racial socialization and psychological functioning. The study recruited 153 African American participants from undergraduate psychology courses at a medium sized Midwestern university. We found that racial identity attitudes moderated the association between the experience of microaggressions and endorsing symptoms of general psychological distress. Additionally, racial identity was found to partially mediate the association between racial socialization and psychological functioning.