The moderating effects of African self -consciousness of African American adolescents' symptoms of stress

Kim R Arrington, Pace University


Research has indicate: that African adolescents, especially those who are impoverished, are at greater risk of experiencing high levee of stress, and using maladaptive coping responses to stress. There is a higher incidence of depression in this group, when compared with other groups. Suicide was found to be the third leading cause of death in adolescents between ages 15 and 18, and depression and suicide have been linked with increase: stress in this population. In addition, there are numerous social indicators that reflect psychological dysfunction in this group (e.g., high rates of school dropouts, and the prevalence of juvenile delinquency and exposure to violence). Despite the present statistics regarding this group, many African American youth have managed to become competent, well-functioning adults. These youth are said to be “resilient” (Sayfer, 1994). Resilience and coping skills have been studied with African American adolescents mostly as they relate to social support system access. The literature suggests that these networks may serve as “protective” factor for this group. Furthermore, the construct of African Self-Consciousness has been posited as a model of optimal mental health functioning for all African Americans (Kambon, also known as Baldwin, 1982, 1984, 1987, 1992, 1996). African Self-consciousness appears to subsume the concept of social support. This study considered the relationship between the following variables as they pertain to African American adolescents: Perceived stress, social-cultural context, African Self-Consciousness (ASC), social support, and stress symptoms. A total of 91 subjects, ages 14–18, from a large northeastern city, participated in the study; 50 from a public school, and another 41 from a program geared providing counseling and academic services to adolescents who had previously been incarcerated. Consistent with previous findings (Cambers et al., 1998), females reported greater perceived stress than the males in the sample. Results revealed that ASC emerged as a moderator variable or buffer for male adolescents in the sample. It was not protective for females, and seems to actually work against them in terms of their stress symptoms. In addition, family social support was correlated with less stress for the entire group, and there was a trend toward social support from friends acting as a buffer to stress. No significant differences were found between settings (high school students vs. community program students). Overall, these findings support previous research in of gender differences with regard to stress, as well as family and friends' role in potentially buffering for African American adolescents. In addition, these data supported previously noted differential responses to ethnic identity with regard to stress. Future research is needed to further investigate the way in which stress and coping in African American adolescents are related, especially with regard to the differential methods of coping between genders. These issues need further clarification.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Personality psychology|Black studies|African American Studies

Recommended Citation

Arrington, Kim R, "The moderating effects of African self -consciousness of African American adolescents' symptoms of stress" (2001). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9991633.



Remote User: Click Here to Login (must have Pace University remote login ID and password. Once logged in, click on the View More link above)