The Role of Racial Identity in Perceived Racial Discrimination

Robert M. Sellers, J. Nicole Shelton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

962 Scopus citations


This study examined the role that dimensions of racial identity play regarding the antecedents and consequences of perceived racial discrimination among African Americans. A total of 267 African American college students completed measures of racial identity, perceived racial discrimination, and psychological distress at 2 time points. After controlling for previous perceptions of discrimination, racial centrality was positively associated with subsequent perceived racial discrimination. Additionally, perceived discrimination was positively associated with subsequent event-specific and global psychological distress after accounting for previous perceptions of discrimination and distress. Finally, racial ideology and public regard beliefs moderated the positive relationship between perceived discrimination and subsequent distress. The results illustrate the complex role racial identity plays in the lives of African Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1079-1092
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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