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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Pain of Discrimination

"In a new study, researchers found that adolescents from Latin American and Asian backgrounds experienced more discrimination than their peers from European backgrounds and that the discrimination came not only from other adolescents but from adults as well. The level of discrimination also impacted these teens' grade-point averages and their health and was associated with depression, distress and lower levels of self-esteem.

601 Teens (equal males and females) kept a daily diary for 2 weeks to record any discriminatory events or comments they experienced. They were also asked to separately record on a four-point scale any physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach-aches or general pain.

Among the teens in the study, nearly 60% reported experiencing discrimination from other teens, and 63% reported discrimination from adults; 12% reported experiencing discrimination on a daily basis.

The researchers found that teens who reported higher levels of peer or adult discrimination also reported more aches, pains and other symptoms, as well as a lower overall grade-point average. Thus, discrimination may not only tax adolescents' physical and psychological resources but may also affect their ability to achieve in school, the researchers said.

"Discrimination significantly predicted lower GPAs, higher levels of depression, higher levels of distress, lower self-esteem and more physical complaints," Fuligni said. "So the bottom line? Discrimination is harmful."


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This interesting study highlights the link between the personal world, i.e. one's own wellbeing and health, and the social world. This link can be good, in terms of positive interactions and suppport, but, as this study shows, negativity in the social world can create bad results in the personal world.

Although people may think the discrimination is only small, it can mount up on a single individual, much like in the story 'An Inspector Calls' by J.B Preistley, and can manifest itself in a number of physical and psychological problems.

The modern world already seems to be accelerating the number of people that are being diagnosed with depression and ADHD and personality disorders etc, and people are quick to blame the fast paced life and music and videogames. This study is an interesting wake-up call that shows how our interactions with each other, although seemingly harmless, may be commiting more pain than we realise.

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