Available at: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/theses/1098
Date of Award
MS in Psychology
Psychology & Child Development
Effects of Racism and Discrimination on Personality Development among
African American Male Repeat Offenders
Tiffany Nicole Lockett
Throughout history in the United States, the African American community has consistently been the victim of social policies put in place to disenfranchise this population (Mauer & Chesney-Lind, 2002; Painter, 2007; Parham, White & Ajamu, 1999). With a longstanding presence of systemic racism and discrimination, the criminal justice system and the dominant culture continues to pathologize this minority group and advocate for increased penalties which further stigmatize African Americans, particularly males in this group (Reiman, 1996; Russell, 1998). Though most criminology research focuses on higher rates of criminal offending within the African American population as the result of the intersection of race, poverty, education, and employment (Russell, 1996), few studies take into account the potential effects that regular exposure to racial discrimination may have on this population. Even fewer take into account how one's experience with racism and discrimination may impact personality development.
The purpose of the study is to investigate a proposed causal link between racism and discrimination on criminal recidivism, using personality as an indirect variable to support this potential relationship. To do so, the study focuses on the criminal offending of an African American male population within a county probation system to explore how one's experience with racism and discrimination leads to the development of certain personality traits which then impact their criminal recidivism. As there is a significant dearth in the literature about the effects of racism and discrimination on this population, this study will provide a unique area of research on a population that has often fallen victim to deficit models in the field.
After exploring the traditional research about the unique experiences of the African American community as a whole , this study aims to provide another perspective as to why this population is disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system by accounting for the potential impact of individual experiences of racism and discrimination of African American males. A number of hypotheses have been generated to account for the interaction between racism, personality, and recidivism within the African American male offending population. It was hypothesized that self-reported experiences with racism and discrimination would lead to lower scored traits of warmth, self-control, and rule-consciousness and subsequently lead to higher rates of repeat offending; conversely, experiences with racism and discrimination would also lead to higher scored traits of dominance and vigilance which then would lead to higher rates of repeat offending. A path analysis will be conducted to elucidate potential links between these variables. Structural equation models found partial support for the hypotheses. Implications and future directions in this study are discussed.
Keywords: African American, racism, discrimination, microaggressions, recidivism, personality