The Role of Race-Based Discrimination in the
Health Outcomes of African Americans

In recent years a number of studies, including those of Center faculty, have indicated that racism and discrimination may be contributing to the negative health status and health outcomes of racial/ethnic minorities. A large body of this work, however, relies on the self-report of perceived racial discrimination. Currently, investigators in the field of social psychology are utilizing new technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the brain's responses to social cognitions in a more direct manner. Studies using fMRI have, for example, documented the differential activation of a person's brain in response to same-race and different-race faces.


There is also a growing body of literature that sets a foundation for the belief that experiences of discrimination do elicit physiological stress responses. By making long-lasting modifications to physiological functions these stress responses may be responsible for the poorer health of minorities, particularly African Americans. Race-based discrimination has shown a significant relationship with incidence of hypertension, smoking, increased heart rate reactivity, and kidney dysfunction as well as various negative mental health outcomes. Our Center is engaged in a series of studies investigating the role discrimination has in the production of these downstream health effects in racial/ethnic minority groups.

Project Website  
Read "Race, Race-Based Discrimination, and Health Outcomes Among African Americans"
by Vickie M. Mays, Susan D. Cochran, and Namdi W. Barnes
Read "Social Cognitive Neuroscience: A Review of Core Processes"
by Matthew D. Lieberman


Copyright © 2004-2011 Vickie M. Mays, PhD, MSPH