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Ethnic Harassment, Ethnic Identity Centrality, and Well-Being

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In this study, we examined the direct effect of (positive vs. negative) evaluation of potentially harassing experiences due to ethnic background on impaired well-being as well as the moderating effect of ethnic identity centrality on the relationship between (lower vs. higher) frequency of potentially harassing experiences and impaired well-being. Using a gender-balanced sample with equal proportions of black and minority ethnic and white undergraduate students (N = 240), we found that, expectedly, ethnic identity centrality intensified the effects of higher frequency of potentially harassing experiences on lower self-esteem and lower positive affect. Unexpectedly, however, gender identity centrality buffered the effects of higher frequency as well as more negative evaluation of potentially harassing experiences on lower self-esteem, indicating that gender identity centrality may be a protective resource, even though it is not specific to ethnic harassment. Exploratory analyses revealed that for black and minority ethnic respondents with high ethnic identity centrality and for white respondents with low ethnic identity centrality, there were associations between more negative evaluation of potentially harassing experiences and lower self-esteem and lower positive affect. This finding might indicate that ethnic identity centrality was a risk factor in black and ethnic minority respondents, but a protective factor in white respondents.

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The authors would like to thank Mayra Ruiz-Castro for her thoughtful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


This research was supported by the Faculty of Business and Law and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit at Kingston University.

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Correspondence to Hans-Joachim Wolfram.

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Research Involving Human Participants

All procedures in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

All respondents filled in the questionnaire online. E-mails inviting to participate were sent through student support services. The e-mails contained an explanation of the aim of the study, along with the assurance that participation would be voluntary, that respondents could withdraw from participating at any time, that their responses would be treated confidentially, and that data would be analysed at aggregate level. Potential respondents willing to participate accessed an online questionnaire through a link at the end of the invitation e-mail.

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Wolfram, HJ., Linton, K. & McDuff, N. Ethnic Harassment, Ethnic Identity Centrality, and Well-Being. J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 5, 1118–1130 (2018).

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