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Coping Responses and the Experience of Discrimination


  • Vetta L. Sanders Thompson

    1. Saint Louis University
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    • 2Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Vetta L. Sanders Thompson, School of Public Health, Salus Center, Saint Louis University, 3545 Lafayette Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63104. E-mail:

  • 1This study was supported by a grant from the American Philosophical Society. The assistance of Karen Terry and Sebrina Bellamy in data collection and management is gratefully acknowledged.


This study examines the coping responses of individuals reporting experiences of racial/ethnic discrimination (N=156). Racial/ethnic differences in contextual appraisals and coping strategies were reported in response to discrimination. African and Asian American participants reporting experiences of discrimination were more likely to perceive the situation as a challenge. African Americans reporting experiences of discrimination were more likely to report seeking support and guidance when compared to Asian and European Americans. Contextual appraisals did not predict the use of coping strategies in response to experiences of discrimination. Emotional discharge and past experiences of discrimination were positively associated with re-experiencing symptoms. Cognitive avoidance coping strategies were associated with avoidance symptoms. Clinical implications of the findings are explored.