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Acute stress response to the "panel-out" Trier Social Stress Test and encounters of racial discrimination in African American and White college students

Parada, Jennifer Carolina (2018) Acute stress response to the "panel-out" Trier Social Stress Test and encounters of racial discrimination in African American and White college students. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Encounters of racial discrimination are appraised as chronic stressors and activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis. Members of racial minority groups experience significantly more racial discrimination and disproportionately high prevalence rates of chronic illnesses, both associated with chronic HPA axis activation. To date, much is unknown about stress responses among healthy African Americans. The present study investigated acute HPA axis activation to the "panel-out" Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) among healthy African American and White college students. Salivary cortisol and blood pressure (BP) were measured before and after the TSST, and participants were asked about their encounters with racial discrimination. It was hypothesized that there would be differences between African American and White participants in encounters with racial discrimination, baseline cortisol, and cortisol and BP measurements post-TSST. Results indicated that compared to White participants (n = 24), African American participants (n = 9) experienced significantly more racial discrimination. There were no significant differences in baseline cortisol, and cortisol and BP in response to the TSST between groups. There were significant increases in cortisol and BP following the TSST, indicating successful implementation of the panel-out protocol. Due to the small sample, cautious interpretation of the analyses for the cortisol data are suggested as the obtained power for these analyses ranged from .080-.321. Adequate power was obtained for the analyses of the discrimination measure and the BP data. The findings for the discrimination measures may support the cumulative nature of allostatic load, and suggest nuances in cognitive appraisal and coping mechanisms suggested by Lazarus and Folkman (1984). Future research should account for factors associated with a blunted stress response, investigate whether blunted stress responses are seen in members of other racial minority groups, and be more critical of the responder criteria applied to cortisol data.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: college students; discrimination; HPA axis; salivary cortisol; stress; TSST
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Social and Behavioral Science > Psychological Sciences
Date Deposited: 11 May 2021 18:08
URI: http://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5468

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