Racial Provocation Induces Cortisol Responses in African-Americans*


Purpose: To examine salivary cortisol responses to a racially-charged stimulus in a group of African-American individuals. Methods: A nonrandom sample of 245 (age: 43.8 ± 11.1 years; 64% female) African-American individuals was recruited by advertisements. Specifically, salivary cortisol was assessed prior to and after being exposed to a racially-charged movie clip. In addition, the salivary cortisol was assessed in the morning and evening of the day following exposure to the racially-charged movie clip. Results: A statistically significant increase in cortisol was found (P < 0.005) in the whole sample. High cortisol responders (highest tertile) and low cortisol responders (lowest tertile) were compared. The high cortisol responders had an elevated cortisol level the following morning (P < 0.05) that abated by the evening sample (P > 0.20). In addition, the high cortisol responders who were younger, had lower waist to hip ratios, and experienced less lifetime discrimination than the low cortisol responders (P’s < 0.05). Conclusions: The findings of an increase in cortisol in response to a racial provocation may provide a potential explanatory factor for the increased rates of cardiovascular disease in African-American individuals.

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A. Weinstein, A. Termini, J. B. Kazman, S. A. Zeno, P. Abraham and P. Deuster, "Racial Provocation Induces Cortisol Responses in African-Americans*," Open Journal of Medical Psychology, Vol. 2 No. 4, 2013, pp. 151-157. doi: 10.4236/ojmp.2013.24023.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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