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Environmental factors are thought to influence interpretation and endorsement of symptoms of psychopathology. The sociocultural model of anxiety in African American (AA) adults identifies culturally-embedded beliefs and attitudes as particularly salient aspects of AA communities and an unappreciated mechanism for seemingly unrelated findings, including differences between AA and European American (EA) participants in anxiety symptoms. The current study focused on two anxiety symptom domains, negative cognitive processes, worry and rumination, and somatic symptom concerns, anxiety sensitivity and body vigilance. In particular, the investigation examined the relationship between these anxiety symptom domains and two sociocultural factors, stigma toward mental illness and salience of physical illnesses. Although, results identified expected ethnic group differences in stigma, there were no differences between groups in the other main sociocultural predictor, the likelihood to interpret somatic symptoms as having physical explanations. Results generally did not support expected ethnic group differences in worry, rumination, anxiety sensitivity, and body vigilance. Priming ethnic identity did not influence anxiety symptom endorsements in AA participants. Additional research is necessary to test the implications of the sociocultural model and the impact of health disparities and stigma on health-related beliefs and behaviors.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Norman B. Schmidt, Professor Directing Dissertation; Jill Quadagno, University Representative; Kimberly Driscoll, Committee Member; Ashby Plant, Committee Member; Natalie Sachs-Ericsson, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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