Effects of Discrimination Versus Self-Blame Attributions on Health: A Longitudinal Study

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Stigma and Health

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Past research demonstrates that perceived discrimination predicts a range of negative psychological and physical health outcomes. However, most research has been limited by a sole focus on individuals’ attributions of negative life outcomes to discrimination and fails to account for potentially simultaneous self-blame attributions. The current research examined the independent and interactive effects of discrimination and self-blame attributions on health over a 3-year time period. A longitudinal study was conducted at a 4-year university in the western United States. Overall, 274 Latinx students were followed from college entry in Fall 2016 through the end of their third year in Spring 2019. Discrimination and self-blame attributions each uniquely predicted poorer psychological health. Discrimination attributions were a stronger predictor of physical health than self-blame. As predicted, self-blame also moderated the effect of discrimination attributions such that the combination of blaming negative events on discrimination and on the self was particularly harmful for self-reported mental and physical health. In the absence of self-blame, the effect of discrimination attributions was reduced to nonsignificance. Self-blame did not moderate the negative impact of discrimination attributions on physiological health markers. Findings highlight the importance of understanding how discrimination and self-blame attributions jointly negatively impact health. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)


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