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Impact of Race-based Discrimination on Social Anxiety Symptoms Among People of Color: Comparing Interracial Anxiety and General Social Anxiety


Research has shown that interpersonal racial discrimination occurs frequently among racially minoritized individuals. Consequently, interracial dynamics are considered to be important considerations for effectively treating social anxiety among racially minoritized individuals. However, research to date has not directly examined the relations between racial discrimination, social anxiety, and interracial anxiety. The current study examined the association between racial discrimination, interracial anxiety and avoidance, and general symptoms of social anxiety. One hundred forty-four individuals who identified with a racially minoritized group completed an online battery of questionnaires on past year discrimination (Landrine et al., 2006), social anxiety (Liebowitz, 1987), and interracial anxiety and avoidance (Plant & Devine, 2003). Average self-reported social anxiety symptom scores for the sample were above clinical cut-off. Among Asian American, Latino/a/x participants, discrimination was associated interracial anxiety. Discrimination was not associated with social anxiety, and this finding was consistent across all racial groups. Further, interracial anxiety and social anxiety measures were only correlated within the Asian American subsample; interracial avoidance and social avoidance were correlated among non-White Latino/a/x. Our findings suggest that racial discrimination is not associated with social anxiety, and that interracial anxiety is not strongly correlated with a general measure of social anxiety symptoms. Therefore, it is important to assess interracial anxiety separately from social anxiety symptoms.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by J.H. Martinez. The first draft of the manuscript was written by J.H. Martinez and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jennifer H. Martinez.

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Martinez, J.H., Hayes-Skelton, S.A. & Abdullah, T. Impact of Race-based Discrimination on Social Anxiety Symptoms Among People of Color: Comparing Interracial Anxiety and General Social Anxiety. J Psychopathol Behav Assess (2023).

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