Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 694–703 | Cite as

The Influence of Cognitive Development and Perceived Racial Discrimination on the Psychological Well-being of African American Youth

  • Eleanor K. SeatonEmail author
Empirical Research


The present study examined the influence of cognitive development in the relationship between multiple types of racial discrimination and psychological well-being. A sample of 322 African American adolescents (53% female), aged 13–18, completed measures of cognitive development, racial discrimination, self-esteem and depressive symptoms. Based on the cognitive development measure, youth were categorized as having pre-formal or formal reasoning abilities. The results indicate no significant differences in perceptions of individual, cultural or collective/institutional racism between pre-formal reasoning and formal reasoning adolescents. However, the results do suggest that perceptions of collective/institutional racism were more harmful for the self-esteem of pre-formal reasoning youth than the self-esteem of formal reasoning youth. The implications for the racial discrimination literature among African American adolescents are discussed.


Racial discrimination Cognitive development African Americans/Blacks Adolescents Psychological well-being 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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