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Abstract

Researchers often assume that the extent, quality, and effectiveness of personal relationships explain why African Americans have relatively good mental health despite experiencing high levels of stress. This study tests this assumption using data from the 1990–1992 National Comorbidity Survey. Few racial differences emerge in patterns of social relationships, and the nature and quality of social relationships do not explain African Americans’ resiliency on mental health. Several aspects of social relationships benefit African Americans’ mental health more than Whites’, but these moderating effects are insubstantial. Hence, the data do not support the assumption. If social relationships help explain the lack of racial differences in mental health, their nature and effects must be more adequately conceptualized.