Title of Abstract

Perceptions of Pain Experienced by African American & Caucasian Women

Submitting Student(s)

Keonna JordanFollow

Faculty Mentor

One WU mentor: Merry Sleigh, Ph.D.; sleighm@winthrop.edu

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

Faculty Mentor

Merry Sleigh, Ph.D.

Abstract

he physical pain of Black adults is routinely underestimated by doctors, medical students, and adults. We examined perceptions of physical and emotional pain experienced by Black and White women at different ages. Adults (n = 98) with a mean age of 21.83 (SD = 3.30) were randomly assigned to read three stories across the lifespan where the target character was either a White or Black female and experienced either physical or emotional pain. We assessed participants’ empathy, sexism, and symbolic racism. Participants believed that Black children and adolescents were tougher at dealing with physical pain than their White counterparts. Black participants and those with lower symbolic racism agreed more, suggesting that the image of the strong Black woman may have a positive origin. However our participants expressed concern about these perceptions in open-ended comments. White children were perceived as better at handling emotional than physical pain, and White adolescents as better at dealing with emotional pain and needing less protection from it than Black adolescents. Perhaps there is recognition that Black adolescents are forming their identity while dealing daily with the emotional stressors of racial inequality, making it harder to deal with additional emotional pain.

Additional Fields About Your Abstract

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Other Presentations/Performances

UCLA conference, July 2020 Winthrop University McNair Research Symposium, Rock Hill, SC, July 2020

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Perceptions of Pain Experienced by African American & Caucasian Women

he physical pain of Black adults is routinely underestimated by doctors, medical students, and adults. We examined perceptions of physical and emotional pain experienced by Black and White women at different ages. Adults (n = 98) with a mean age of 21.83 (SD = 3.30) were randomly assigned to read three stories across the lifespan where the target character was either a White or Black female and experienced either physical or emotional pain. We assessed participants’ empathy, sexism, and symbolic racism. Participants believed that Black children and adolescents were tougher at dealing with physical pain than their White counterparts. Black participants and those with lower symbolic racism agreed more, suggesting that the image of the strong Black woman may have a positive origin. However our participants expressed concern about these perceptions in open-ended comments. White children were perceived as better at handling emotional than physical pain, and White adolescents as better at dealing with emotional pain and needing less protection from it than Black adolescents. Perhaps there is recognition that Black adolescents are forming their identity while dealing daily with the emotional stressors of racial inequality, making it harder to deal with additional emotional pain.