The developmental influence of skin tone on psychosocial outcomes among African American youth Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Adams, Elizabeth A.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • This doctoral dissertation is the first to explore the longitudinal impact of skin tone bias among African American adolescents. The relationships between skin tone, self-esteem, peer discrimination, and race socialization were explored using a data from the Youth Identity Project. African American adolescents (N = 189) were surveyed in Grades 5, 7, 10 and 12. During the final wave of data collection a skin tone measure was added to the study, and youths' skin tone was rated on a 3-point scale (1 = Light, 2 = Brown, 3 = Dark). In exploring changes in the relationship between skin tone and self-esteem across time, youth with light-skinned youth reported higher self-esteem than dark and brown-skinned youth in Grades 5 and 7, yet by Grade 12 these differences were no longer significant. Further, results from latent growth curve analyses demonstrate that skin tone predicts a quadratic trajectory, such that skin tone predicts the initial downturn and subsequent rebound of self-esteem during adolescence. In terms of the relationship between skin tone race socialization, light and dark-skinned girls reported receiving more preparation for bias messages than brown-skinned girls, and both light and dark-skinned youth reported receiving more cultural socialization messages than brown-skinned youth. Additionally, parents reported transmitting significantly more cultural socialization messages to their light and dark-skinned youth than to those rated as brown-skinned. Contrary to expectations, skin tone was not a significant predictor of peer discrimination frequency or peer discrimination distress, and peer discrimination distress did not moderate the relationship between skin tone and self-esteem. Finally the results from this dissertation are discussed in terms of implications for parents and clinicians.
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  • In Copyright
  • Kurtz-Costes, Beth
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2014

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