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Department of Psychology


Although psychological research has found that perceiving personal discrimination is associated with negative psychological symptoms, group consciousness theories suggest that perceiving personal discrimination can be empowering. To attempt to reconcile these presumably opposing findings, the present study suggested that how one copes with perceiving personal discrimination may better predict whether the outcomes are negative or positive than the perception of personal discrimination alone. American female university students ( N = 262) completed a questionnaire assessing their perceptions of personal discrimination, psychological symptoms and psychosocial behaviors. A series of hierarchical regression analyses indicated that coping mechanisms predicted psychosocial behaviors over and above personal discrimination so that the more women utilized social support coping, the more collective action and less helplessness behavior they reported. Also, the more women used avoidance coping, the more helplessness behavior they reported.