How Does Discrimination Affect Health? Testing a Social-Cognitive Model
Monday, October 09, 2017
St. John’s University
Exposure to racial and ethnic discrimination has been associated with negative outcomes including mental health symptoms, problematic health behavior and heart disease risk factors among other health impairments. How could discrimination have effects on such a wide range of outcomes? One possibility is that discrimination operates by changing social cognition – the structures and processes that influence the way we engage with the social world. Discrimination at all levels (i.e., cultural, institutional, and interpersonal) may have effects on building blocks of social cognition including schemas and on the underlying cognitive control processes that support social cognition. Through effects on social cognition, discrimination can shape self-regulation, exacerbate stress reactivity, and undermine the relationships vital for health promotion. In this talk, I will describe a model of the social cognitive pathways linking discrimination to health, and present evidence from our lab and others in support of this model.