Controlling Images: How Awareness of Group Stereotypes Affects Black Women’s Well-Being

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Abstract

This paper presents research exploring how stereotypes that are simultaneously racialized and gendered affect Black women. We investigated the mental and physical health consequences of Black women’s awareness that others hold these stereotypes and tested whether this association was moderated by the centrality of racial identity. A structural equation model tested among 609 young Black women revealed that metastereotype awareness (i.e., being aware that others hold negative stereotypes of one’s group) predicted negative mental health outcomes (e.g., depression, anxiety, hostility), which, in turn, predicted diminished self-care behaviors and greater drug and alcohol use for coping. High racial centrality exacerbated the negative association between metastereotype awareness and self-care. We discuss implications of the findings for clinical practice and for approaches to research using intersectionality frameworks.

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