Experiences with prejudice, which remain relatively frequent in the lives of minorites1, 2, are associated with negative outcomes for both psychological well-beings, including increased anxiety and depression4, 5, 32, and physical health, ranging from increased blood pressure33 to problem health behaviors such as unhealthy eating. The prejudice-health link presents a barrier to the achievement of full potential and healthy lives for minority group members. Previous research shows that people rarely confront prejudice verbally12, 13, 22 and may face social and material costs if they do14, 15. However, research has not yet examined the nonverbal responses that people exhibit when they experience prejudice. We propose to test whether minorities' in-the- moment nonverbal responses to prejudice affect the prejudice-health link. We hypothesize that minorities' expression of nonverbal negativity, as opposed to their suppressing these responses, will predict the degree to which they subsequently experience negative health outcomes. We also propose to test where these patterns of nonverbal expression vs. suppression come from. Based on previous research, we propose that minorities who believe others can change are more likely to express nonverbal negativity, while those who believe others are fixed will be more likely to suppress their nonverbal behavior. Thus, we hypothesize that people's beliefs about others' personality (as fixed vs. malleable) will predict the type of response they exhibit after experiencing prejudice (nonverbal expression vs. nonverbal suppression), which will affect the degree to which they experience the negative psychological (i.e., stress, depression) and health (i.e., unhealthy eating attitudes and behaviors) consequences associated with experiencing bias (less vs. more). We will test these predictions in three studies. The proposed research will deepen our understanding of the prejudice-health link by identifying a source of individual variation in the degree to which minority group members are affected by experiencing prejudice and the process by which some may exhibit more beneficial emotion regulation. This research will also extend previous theory in the domain of nonverbal behavior. Previous research shows that nonverbal behavior is a rich source of interpersonal communication, but has yet to explore the possibility that the suppression of nonverbal behavior can have important psychological and physical health consequences. The proposed research may also provide the groundwork for broader scale and longer term interventions that could be implemented in workplaces, schools, and other interaction contexts to benefit minority group members' outcomes. Ultimately, the proposed research will contribute to our understanding of the nonverbal expression, emotion regulation, and the coping behaviors associated with avoiding the negative psychological and health consequences of experiencing prejudice. Because this research investigates a critical factor in minorities' ability to achieve their full potential and flourish as humans, we believe that this proposal advances NICHD's mission to ensure the health and well-being of all persons across the lifespan.

Public Health Relevance

The link between experiencing prejudice and negative psychological (e.g.; stress; depression) and health (e.g.; unhealthy behaviors) consequences has been widely documented and may prevent minorities from achieving their full potential as humans. The proposed research will examine (a) whether minorities' in- the-moment responses to experiences with prejudice - whether they express vs. suppress nonverbal negativity -attenuate the prejudice-health link and (b) whether minorities' beliefs about others' ability to change drive these patterns of nonverbal expression vs. suppression. Together; the three proposed studies will contribute to our understanding of the nonverbal expression and the emotion regulation strategies associated with avoiding the negative psychological and health consequences of experiencing prejudice for minority group members.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F16-L (20))
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Haverkos, Lynne
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Stanford University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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