Racial and Ethnic Variation in Racial Group Identity, Psychosocial Resources, and Health
Leslie, Erika T. A. (Perez)
Scholarship indicates that racial group identity is important to the psychological well-being and health of Black Americans. Racial group identity is beneficial, because it provides group members with a sense of belonging and solidarity with similarly situated others. Operationalizing racial group identity as closeness to other Blacks and Black group evaluation, this dissertation investigates the extent to which early and current socioeconomic factors shape racial group identity. Furthermore, this work gauges the impact of racial group identity on self-concept and physical health among a diverse sample of Black Americans - specifically, African Americans and Caribbean Blacks. This study consists of three interrelated papers, which utilize data from National Survey of American Life. The first paper examines how socioeconomic status of origin and current socioeconomic status shape racial group identity. Results show that for both African Americans and Caribbean Blacks, the respondent's education is positively associated with group evaluation. Among African Americans only, receipt of public assistance while growing up has a lasting negative effect on group evaluation net of respondent's current socioeconomic status. With respect to closeness to other Blacks, parental education has a negative impact for African Americans, while neither socioeconomic status of origin nor current socioeconomic status is associated with closeness for Caribbean Blacks. The second paper considers how closeness and group evaluation shape self-esteem and mastery. Results show that for both African Americans and Caribbean Blacks closeness and group evaluation are positively associated with self-esteem, while group evaluation is positively associated with mastery. For African Americans only, there is a significant relationship between closeness and mastery. Finally, the third paper assesses the relationships among racial group identity, self-concept, and physical health. For both African Americans and Caribbean Blacks, the positive effects of group evaluation on physical health is fully mediated by self-esteem and mastery. For Caribbean Blacks, the positive relationship between closeness and physical health is only partially explained by self-esteem and mastery.