Patterns of Racial Socialization and Psychological Adjustment: Can Parental Communications About Race Reduce the Impact of Racial Discrimination?


  • Rhonda L. White is now at the University of South Carolina. Cheri L. Philip is now at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Enrique W. Neblett Jr. at his present address: Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Davie Hall, Campus Box 3270, Chapel Hill, NC 27599–3270. E-mail:


This study uses two waves of data to examine the relations among racial discrimination experiences, patterns of racial socialization practices, and psychological adjustment in a sample of 361 African American adolescents. Using latent class analyses, we identified four patterns of child-reported racial socialization experiences: Moderate Positive, High Positive, Low Frequency, and Moderate Negative. Experiencing racial discrimination was associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms, more perceived stress, and lower levels of well-being. On average, adolescents who experienced High Positive patterns of racial socialization reported the most positive psychological adjustment outcomes, while adolescents in the Low Frequency and Moderate Negative clusters reported the least favorable outcomes. Results suggest that High Positive racial socialization buffers the negative effects of racial discrimination on adolescents' perceived stress and problem behaviors. Together, the findings suggest that various patterns of racial socialization practices serve as risk, compensatory, and protective factors in African American adolescent psychological adjustment.