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Salivary Bioscience News

Cardiovascular health disparities and psychosocial factors that influence stress reactivity

A Preliminary Experimental Examination of Worldview Verification, Perceived Racism, and Stress Reactivity in African Americans

Author: Lucas, et al (2016), Health Psychology

This preliminary examination considers how experiencing injustice can affect perceived racism and biological stress reactivity among African Americans. Guided by worldview verification theory, it was hypothesized that responses to receiving an unfair outcome would be moderated by fairness of the accompanying decision process, and that this effect would further depend on the consistency of the decision process with preexisting justice beliefs. A sample of 118 healthy African American adults completed baseline measures of justice beliefs, followed by a laboratory-based social-evaluative stressor task. The hypothesized 3-way interaction was generally obtained. Among African Americans with a strong belief in justice, perceived racism, cortisol, and C-reactive protein responses to low distributive justice were higher when procedural justice was low. Among African Americans with a weak belief in justice however, these responses were higher when a low level of distributive justice was coupled with high procedural justice. Biological and psychological processes that contribute to cardiovascular health disparities are affected by consistency between individual-level and contextual justice factors.

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Keywords: C-reactive protein, perceived racism, procedural justice, stress-reactivity, worldview verification theory

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