Seemingly Harmless Discrimination Has Harmful Psychological Effects

People who are discriminated against can suffer significant negative consequences. General well-being, self-esteem, self-worth, and social relations can be severely impacted as a result of discrimination. But recognizing exactly how perceived discrimination affects an individual is much less understood. Previous research has suggested that perceived discrimination can lead to mental health problems such as increased stress, depression, and anxiety. In an effort to better comprehend the exact relationship between perceived discrimination and psychological health, Que-Lam Huynh of the Department of Psychology at California State University recently led a study that examined the effects of this type of prejudice on Latin American participants.

Past studies have demonstrated that African-Americans report varying levels of stress relative to the context of the discrimination they perceive. Overall, research indicates that discrimination in professional settings is more stressful than discrimination in social settings. Additionally, studies have provided mixed results on how the effects of discrimination vary based on severity and frequency. To clarify these influences, Huynh analyzed data from 168 Latino individuals, who reported the severity and frequency of perceived discrimination. The study also evaluated the distress levels, specifically anxiety and depression, of the participants.

The findings revealed that the higher the frequency of perceived discrimination, the higher the levels of reported anxiety and depression in the participants. The results also showed that participants who did experience extreme discrimination, although infrequently, were equally adversely affected. The research team was able to determine that, overall, the frequency of less stressful discrimination was more detrimental to the participants’ psychological well-being than less frequent high-stress discrimination experiences. Huynh believes these findings will help clinicians treating cultural minorities who struggle with mental health problems resulting from perceived discrimination. Huynh said, “Thus, it is important for researchers to examine both perceived frequency and perceived stressfulness, as the interplay between these two dimensions of discrimination has meaningful relations with psychological adjustment.”

Huynh, Q.-L., Devos, T., Dunbar, C. M. The Psychological Costs of Painless but Recurring Experiences of Racial Discrimination. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology 18.1 (2012): 26-34. Print.

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  • free fred

    February 8th, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    discrimination has always existed and will continue to exist.the number of people doing that might have come down but discrimination is in no danger of going extinct.
    stricter work place rules and a general non-tolerance from everybody will not only deter people from discriminating but will also make them feel stupid about themslves.

  • yeet boi

    September 17th, 2019 at 9:36 PM

    the number of people discriminating has gone up 150% but our population has risen aswell

  • Jenna

    February 8th, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    Not saying that this does not happen anymore but. . . how do you know when it is real discrimination and when it is only perceived as such?

  • Elvin

    February 9th, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    No discrimination is harmless. It may not invoke anger or a bad feeling in the person at the receiving end but it certainly affects him/her somewhere deep down inside. It may never come out or be exposed but will certainly play a role at some point of time.

  • hank f

    February 9th, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    personally i think it is time for us all to get over it and move on, suck it up and show then that that kind of stuff does not fly anymore

  • Mariama

    March 27th, 2017 at 1:03 PM

    If it is that easy to everyone to just sucks it up, and all is well, then that would not be a problem. But we humans as individuals are different and unique in our own ways. Therefore, the limit to my endurance is never the same compared to what another individual can endure. Nevertheless, even if it is the same, what is nice about being discriminated against. Instead of just sacking it up, why not just putting a stop to the act of discrimination? Besides, would you tell your child to suck it up, when he or she complained about being a victim of discrimination? Only a cruel parent would do that.

  • dt

    April 10th, 2018 at 10:33 AM

    I believe that racial discrimination is a growing factor in America and will keep growing as long as people in high power take advantage and want to discriminate against people that are working harder than people that are native to the land are.

  • Libby

    February 10th, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    I have been discriminated against in the past in the workplace for being a woman and I was so stressed that not only did my job performance suffer as a result but home and family life did too. Telling someone to just suck it up and get over it does not address the problems and it sure is a little callous if you ask me.

  • AgAiNsT_dIsCrImInAtIoN

    May 30th, 2012 at 6:10 AM

    Those individuals who tell people to *suck it up* have either never been discriminated against or just live in a cave somewhere, far, far away from normal society-yeah, i don’t know how they got internet either, haha.

    For those of you who have been discriminated against, just think that it’s because they’re jealous of you and that they can’t accept difference. You have something which they don’t, therefore they bully you, to try and make it seem like your difference is a bad thing. BUT it’s not!! Difference is a good thing and should be celebrated.

  • Tommy

    February 10th, 2017 at 4:40 PM

    What are the sources of the studies you used in the second paragraph? Really need them. Thank you!

  • Jon

    February 6th, 2018 at 4:12 PM

    If only people have discipline, discrimination could be extinct.

  • AR T.

    March 23rd, 2018 at 5:20 AM

    Discipline is also a kind of discrimination, if someone feels, hate. But sure humanity will disappear every nonsense like this…

  • Patty lowe

    January 26th, 2020 at 10:40 AM

    How can a person tell you know to be able to advertise on the grounds that two of the same business can’t be on screen but you can vividly see two medical places on there. Is this not discrimination. It’s because the lady and the one who wants to advertise is operating the same kind if business photography. Can someone tell me how to get around the lady who owns it

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