Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Psy.D. Doctor of Clinical Psychology

Academic Discipline

Clinical Psychology - Florida School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Patricia Dixon

Second Advisor

Gary Howell

Third Advisor

Sierra Iwanicki


Much psychological research has examined the impact of racial discrimination upon those who have personally experienced it. Such research emphasizes personal encounters with racial bias and ethnic discrimination can cause victims considerable mental and emotional injury, manifested as race-based traumatic stress. Far less research has examined the effects of vicarious racism on those who witness it, including those who witness it via online media. Given the growing and significant amount of social media coverage in the United States of America containing images of unarmed African Americans who have been killed in perceived racially motivated encounters, this is a valuable area of investigation.

Accordingly, this current study focuses on the relationship between witnessing perceived racial discrimination of African Americans via media and trauma symptoms, public regard and cultural mistrust among African Americans. Survey data was collected from 329 participants recruited through email, social media platforms, listservs, message boards and text messaging. Participants completed the Perceived Online Racism Scale (PORS), the Trauma Symptoms of Discrimination Scale (TSDS), the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity (MIBI), and the Cultural Mistrust Inventory (CMI). Correlational analysis was performed to determine the relationships between witnessing perceived racial discrimination against via media and trauma symptoms, public regard and cultural mistrust among African Americans. It was found that the more racial discrimination an individual witnessed, the lower their level of trauma, the higher their public regard score and the lower their sense of cultural mistrust. Some differences by gender and educational achievement were observed. Recommendations for future avenues of research and policymaking are made in the current study.

Available for download on Saturday, June 20, 2026