Abstract: (WITHDRAWN) How Does Internalized Racism Affect Marital Satisfaction? (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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532P (WITHDRAWN) How Does Internalized Racism Affect Marital Satisfaction?

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Allison Giambattista, BS, Student, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

Background: Internalized racism can cause a multitude of problems in an individual’s life, including depression, anxiety, self-esteem, and physical health. Few studies have ever looked at how internalized racism can affect the health of a marriage, although there is research that supports that external racism can negatively impact a marriage. Black couples in the US divorce at higher rates than white couples, even when controlling for SES and education, which shows that much more research is needed to fully explain this gap. Internalized racism is one possible explanation, and this paper helps fill this literature gap. This paper looks specifically at American-born black couples, to see how internalized racism affects relationship quality.

Methods: This paper uses data from the National Survey of American Life, which collected data in a probability sample of households in predominantly black areas. Anyone who marked their race as anything besides “African American” was excluded. Internalized racism was measured by creating a scale where respondents answered how much they do or don’t agree with stereotypes about black people, ranging from 6 (or low internalized racism) to 24 (or high internalized racism). This was then run against a variable asking about marital satisfaction and several control variables.

Results: In the first model, the only variables are internalized racism, sex, and age. This model shows a significant negative correlation between internalized racism and relationship quality. In the second model, all those variables were run as well as how well the respondent gets along with their partner’s kids, length of time living together, and a history of depression. In the second model, only those who got along well with their partner’s kids had a significant relationship with marital satisfaction.

Conclusion and Implication: This paper’s findings indicate that internalized racism can negatively influence relationship quality. It also indicates that the relationship between stepparents and children has an influence on relationship quality and might be an area of clinical focus for black couples in therapy. This paper only looks at those currently in relationships, so more research could be done on those who were divorced to see how internalized racism affected their relationship before they divorced. This paper adds to the literature, but there is still more research to be done about the interpersonal effects of internalized racism.