The Effects of Online and Institutional Racism on the Mental Health of African Americans

Document Type


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Publication Title

Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology


Adult and Continuing Education Administration | Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


Objectives: Although a wealth of literature has documented the adverse physical and mental health effects associated with exposure to racism, little scholarly attention has focused on the specific impact of online racism. Online experiences of racism have increased significantly over the years, and the intersection of online and “offline” racism makes it difficult for African Americans to find respite from overall experiences of racial discrimination in their daily lives. To address this gap in the literature, the present study was designed to examine the possible compounded effect of online and institutional racism by investigating whether offline institutional racism would serve as a moderator of the effects of online racism on psychological outcomes in a sample of African Americans. Method: One hundred and eighty-two African Americans answered survey data on their experiences of institutional and online racism, as well as their overall mental health. Moderated regressions and simple slope analyses were performed to examine the effects of online, institutional, and the interaction of online and institutional racism on psychological symptoms (i.e., psychological distress and well-being). Results: Online racism was the strongest and most consistent predictor of all outcome variables. The interaction of online and institutional racism was significantly associated with psychological distress but not well-being. Conclusions: Findings suggest that participants who endorsed institutional racism experience increased severity in psychological symptoms in relation to increased exposure to online racism.

Original Citation

Cavalhieri, K. E., Greer, T. M., Hawkins, D., Choi, H., Hardy, C., & Heavner, E. (2023). The effects of online and institutional racism on the mental health of African Americans.Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. Advance online publication.