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date: 20 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents a theoretical framework that highlights the role of social cognition in mediating the effects of discrimination on health. This framework suggests that through alterations in schemas and appraisal processes, long-term discrimination increases the experienced frequency, intensity, and duration of threat exposure and concomitant distress. At the same time, the ability to recover from threat exposure may be impaired by the effects of discrimination on cognitive control processes that are necessary for modulating stress responses. Together, these processes may influence the ability to initiate and sustain health-promoting behavior, avoid health-impairing behavior, attenuate stress reactivity, and facilitate stress recovery. Through effects on social cognition, persistent exposure to discrimination may potentiate sustained dysregulation of psychophysiological systems responsible for maintaining health.

Keywords: appraisals, ethnic discrimination, health, racial discrimination, psychophysiology, reactivity, social cognition, stress, stress recovery, working memory

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