Preparing for racial microaggressions: The role of cognition and emotion in the proactive coping process of African American college students

R. C.T. DeLapp, M. T. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Traditionally, conceptual models of racial stressors (including racial microaggressions) have characterized the reactive experiences of African Americans, particularly identifying how African Americans cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally respond to racial stress. The current study extends beyond the reactive coping experience and identifies nuances in the anticipatory and preparatory coping processes associated with racial microaggressions. Methods: 58 African American college students participated in a stress induction condition that exposed them to racial microinsults and prompted anticipatory concerns of further exposure to racial stress while completing a task with a racially insensitive peer. Following exposure to the stress induction condition, participants completed self-report questionnaires about their anticipatory thoughts, current affect, and proactive coping behaviors. Results: Threat-oriented thinking and negative affect were experienced in anticipation of racial discrimination; however, the endorsement of challenge-oriented thinking and positive affect were better predictors of how the current sample planned to use proactive coping behaviors to manage the anticipated racial stress. Implications: The current findings expand the racial stress coping narrative by capturing how the expression of optimism, perceived control, self-confidence, goal attainability, and positive emotion in anticipation of racial stress increases one's intention to implement coping strategies to minimize the impact of racial stress on task completion. Such findings provide cognitive and emotional targets for assessment when attempting to understand how African Americans are preparing themselves to manage anticipated racial stressors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100897
JournalNew Ideas in Psychology
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • African Americans
  • Discrimination
  • Positive psychology
  • Proactive coping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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