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Background: African American culture has long been known for its emphasis on emotion expression (Boykin, 1986). However, African Americans have learned to restrict emotion publicly due to pervasive stereotypes (Consedine & Magai, 2002). It’s likely that such behavior is learned in the family, in which parents alert children to racial discrimination that is typically associated with context (Dunbar et al., 2017). Thus, African Americans are likely to vary emotion expression according to context. The current study explored emotion expression in the family and public context.
Methods: 188 African American/Black college students from 3 different types of college campuses. The sample was 62.4% female, 35.4% male, and 2.2. genderqueer/gender non- conforming. Data were collected via an online survey with all self-report measures. Contextual differences in emotion expression were explored via latent profile analysis (LPA).
Results: Five profiles emerged: More Positive and Negative Submissive Expression (n = 49; 26%), More Family Expression (n = 8; 5%), Low Family and Campus Expression (n = 24; 13%), More Campus Positive and Negative Dominant Expression (n = 45; 24%), and More Positive and Less Negative Dominant Expression (n = 63; 33%). Racial discrimination significantly predicted profile membership for the More Campus Positive and Negative Dominant Expression profile in particular.
Conclusions: African American youth express emotion differently in the family context compared to campus, particularly in the face of racial discrimination. The patterns of emotion expression revealed here are helpful in terms of evaluating outcomes of African American’s emotion-related behavior as taught in the family.
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