Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Psychology

First Advisor

Alan M. Gross

Second Advisor

Laura J. Dixon


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



Participants were 324 self-identified ethnic/racial minority adults recruited from a southern university in the United States and an online community (MTurk workers) primarily ranging in age from 18-30 (78.4%). Participants completed a demographic questionnaire and a measure for each of the variables of interest. A moderated mediation analysis was conducted using PROCESS (Hayes 2013) model 8. It was hypothesized that acculturation modality (X) would predict skin lightening behaviors and attitudes (Y) through three mediators (M1: Discrepancy scores M2: Satisfaction with Skin Color and M3: Desire to Change Skin Color). Psychological well-being was predicted to be a moderator (W) of the relationship between acculturation modality and internalized racism as well as in between acculturation modality and skin lightening behaviors and attitudes. Results suggest the validity of the overall model given found statistical significance. In addition acculturation modality (X) Satisfaction with Skin Color (M2) and Desire to Change Skin Color (M3) were found to be significant predictors of skin lightening behaviors (Y). However the mediation and moderation effects were not found to be significant in this model. Follow-up analyses using simpler models with only one moderator shothat the model that accounted for Desire to Change Skin Color (M3) supported the proposed moderated mediation. Results and implications of findings are discussed. This project explored the impact of internalized racism in the relationship between acculturation modality and skin lightening (both behaviors and attitudes). In addition the role of psychological well-being was analyzed in the context of the relationships previously mentioned. Acculturation modality included orientation to the mainstream culture or one’s heritage culture. Skin lightening addressed participants’ avoidance and approach behaviors toward skin lightening as well as personal and others’ perceptions of engaging in these behaviors. Internalized racism included measures of satisfaction with one’s skin color comparison to others of the same ethnicity and perceptions of attractiveness based on skin tone. Lastly psychological well-being was defined as a global measure of life satisfaction.



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