Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MA in Clinical Psychology



First Advisor

Elizabeth Brondolo

Second Advisor

Robin Wellington


Researchers have theorized that exposure to racial discrimination may impair executive functioning. The limited existing data broadly support this notion and suggest that discrimination may exert acute and persistent effects on executive functioning, potentially because of the cognitive demands associated with responding to discrimination. However, it is unclear if discrimination is differentially associated with different core executive functions. Further, the effects may vary depending on the timing of exposure, as recent or acute exposure to discrimination may operate on executive functioning through different mechanisms than exposure across the lifetime. The current study evaluates the relations of both recent and lifetime exposure to racial discrimination to three core executive functions (i.e., cognitive flexibility, inhibitory control and working memory) using a racially and ethnically diverse sample (n = 319). In fully adjusted models, recent discrimination was negatively associated with cognitive flexibility and working memory but not with inhibitory control. These data are consistent with the broader literature on acute stress effects on core executive functions and may have implications for understanding the effects of discrimination on health. Further research is warranted to understand the course and mechanisms of effects of lifetime and recent discrimination on core executive functions.

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