Racial Barrier Socialization and the Well-Being of African American Adolescents: The Moderating Role of Mother–Adolescent Relationship Quality


  • During the course of this research, the first author was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Training Program in Research on Black Child Development (T32-HD049325-01, Vonnie C. McLoyd, Director), National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Collection of the data on which the present study is based was supported by grant R01MH44662 from the National Institute of Mental Health and a faculty scholar award in child mental health from the William T. Grant Foundation, both awarded to the second author. We express our appreciation to all the families who participated in this study. We also gratefully acknowledge three anonymous reviewers for comments on this manuscript.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Shauna M. Cooper, Department of Psychology, University of South Carolina, 554 Barnwell College, Columbia, SC 29208. E-mail: smcooper@sc.edu


Racial socialization has been suggested as an important factor in helping African American adolescents cope effectively with racism and discrimination. Although multiple studies have reported a positive link between racial pride socialization and psychological adjustment among African American youth, assessments of the association between adolescent adjustment and another dimension of racial socialization—racial barrier socialization—have yielded inconsistent findings. Using a sample of 190 African American adolescents, the present study focuses on the quality of mother–adolescent relationships as an indicator of affective context, and examines its moderating influence on the association between racial barrier socialization and adolescent adjustment. Regression analyses indicated that the link between racial barrier socialization and adolescent adjustment is moderated by mother–adolescent relationship quality. However, these associations varied by gender.