Perceived Discrimination and Psychological Well-Being: The Mediating and Moderating Role of Sense of Control

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Being discriminated against is an unpleasant and stressful experience, and its connection to reduced psychological well-being is well-documented. The present study hypothesized that a sense of control would serve as both mediator and moderator in the dynamics of perceived discrimination and psychological well-being. In addition, variations by age, gender, and race in the effects of perceived discrimination were explored. Data from the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) survey (N = 1,554; age range = 45 to 74) provided supportive evidence for the hypotheses. The relationships between perceived discrimination and positive and negative affect were reduced when sense of control was controlled, demonstrating the role of sense of control as a mediator. The moderating role of sense of control was also supported, but only in the analysis for negative affect: the combination of a discriminatory experience and low sense of control markedly increased negative affect. In addition, age and gender variations were observed: the negative impact of perceived discrimination on psychological well-being was more pronounced among younger adults and females compared to their counterparts. The findings elucidated the mechanisms by which perceived discrimination manifested its psychological outcomes, and suggest ways to reduce adverse consequences associated with discriminatory experiences.

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The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, v. 66, issue 3, p. 213-227