The Relationship Between Skin Tone and Psychological Adjustment: Exploring the Role of Racial Socialization Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Gaskin, Ashly
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Despite the major role that skin tone plays in the lives of African Americans (e.g., Thompson & Keith, 2001), a limited body of work has examined the relationship between skin tone and psychological adjustment. Given the developmental significance of skin tone during the transition to adulthood and the dearth of studies examining the mechanisms through which skin tone is related to psychological adjustment, this study examined: 1) the nature of the association between skin tone and psychological adjustment (depressive symptoms, self-esteem, and psychological well-being); 2) the moderating; and 3) mediating roles of racial and skin tone socialization in the relationship between skin tone and adjustment; and 4) the moderating influence of gender on the indirect link between skin tone and adjustment through racial and skin tone socialization. One hundred ninety-two Black adults (18 – 25 years old; 54.2% female) recruited from a large southeastern university completed measures of self-reported skin tone, racial and skin tone socialization, and psychological adjustment. Results revealed a quadratic association between skin tone and psychological well-being, which was moderated by positive skin tone socialization messages. Negative skin tone messages exacerbated the association between skin tone and depressive symptoms, but findings across adjustment outcomes were inconsistent. Contrary to expectations, racial and skin tone socialization did not mediate the association between racial identity and skin tone. Findings are situated in the broader literature, and research and clinical implications of the findings are discussed.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Jones, Deborah
  • Kurtz-Costes, Beth
  • Livas-Stein, Gabriela
  • Hussong, Andrea
  • Neblett, Enrique
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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