STUDY: Feeling Stressed Out? Discrimination May Be to Blame.

By Kenrya Rankin Mar 11, 2016

A new study from the American Psychological Association confirms what a lot of people of color already know: Discrimination is stressful.

“Stress in America: The Impact of Discrimination” analyzed data from an August 2015 Harris Poll of 3,361 American adults; 2,290 of them were people of color. The study found that 69 percent of respondents have experienced discrimination at some point, with 61 percent saying they deal with it daily. Nearly half (47 percent) report what the study defines as major discrimination, which includes unfair treatment from police; neighbors making their life difficult; teachers who discourage their development; and health care disparities.

The researchers connect experiencing discrimination—and even the heightened vigilance that comes with the anticipation of being mistreated—with increased stress. Across the board, those who reported being discriminated against also had elevated stress levels, which is associated with poorer overall health.

“It’s clear that discrimination is widespread and impacts many people,” Jaime Diaz-Granados, the APA’s executive director for education said in a press release. “When people frequently experience unfair treatment, it can contribute to increased stress and poorer health.”

Key findings:

  • 39 percent of Black men report being unfairly stopped, searched, questioned, threatened or assaulted by police
  • 35 percent of Asian men say they have been unfairly denied a promotion
  • 81 percent of Native Americans, 76 percent of Blacks, 74 percent of Asians and 72 percent of Latinos report every day discrimination
  • Among those who have experienced discrimination, just 28 percent of Blacks report being in excellent/very good health; that percentage is 29 percent for Hispanics, and 32 for Whites
  • Overall, women report higher stress levels than men


Read the full study here.