Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Psychology (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Jessica Brooks


Racial discrimination and its relationship with mental health outcomes in BIPOC students, specifically psychological distress, the focus of this study. This was deemed important because these students may have responded by using certain coping strategies that could be harmful to their mental health and overall health, in the long term. It is already known that racism has been a problem in the world, but has morphed over the years to that of subtle, and often more harmful, forms of racism (e.g. microaggressions). The goal of this study was to examine the discriminatory experiences of BIPOC students at a predominantly white institution. Data was collected on coping mechanisms students use in relation to racial discrimination and psychological distress. A cross-sectional methodology consisting of administration of an online survey via Qualtrics (including Racism and Life Experiences Scale, Racism-Related Coping Scale, and Mental Health Inventory) was employed. It was hypothesized that the frequency and distress associated with the experienced discrimination would be predictive of overall psychological distress, and that avoidant coping mechanisms would add predictive validity to this model. It was found that the more racial discrimination that is experienced, the more consequences that can be expected in the future as far as mental health is concerned. Through the coping mechanisms used, it was also found that active coping can actually increase microstress.

Thesis Summary

This thesis is about examining the effects of racial discrimination on minority students. The purpose of this thesis was to examine racial experiences of minority students at predominantly white institutions. The methods used for this research included a cross-sectional methodology consisting of an online survey via Qualtrics (including measures such as a coping scale, mental health inventory, and a life experiences scale). It was found that the more racial discrimination experienced by someone, the more psychological consequences one would have. With the coping measures used, it was also found that some active coping mechanisms can actually cause microstress.