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Keep it R.E.A.L.: Measuring Common Racial Experiences among African American Adolescents Open Access

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Although studies utilizing self-report measures of racial discrimination have added to our understanding of the expression and effects of race-based stress among African American adolescents, four problems characterize the current measurement of racial discrimination with these youth: 1) the majority of existing measures are not developmentally-specific to the content and expression of racial discrimination experienced by adolescents; 2) most common measures are distorted by substantial retrospective bias; 3) the majority of available measures do not incorporate a comprehensive set of contexts in which racial discrimination occurs; and 4) no current measures counterbalance racial discrimination experiences with positive racial experiences. This dissertation project presents the psychometric development of the Racial Experiences in Adolescent Life (R.E.A.L.) measure, a self-report compendium that builds upon the current state of racial discrimination instruments by: 1) incorporating a qualitative and quantitative methods to validate the content of the measure in order to ensure the developmental appropriateness of the questionnaire content; 2) utilizing Experience Sample Methodology (ESM) to minimize retrospective bias; 3) incorporating an array of contexts common in the lives of African American adolescents (e.g., school, Internet, athletics); and 4) including both positive and discriminatory racial experiences. Results from the three phases of this dissertation study indicate that a compendium of four measures that incorporate general daily experiences, gender-specific experiences, and weekly experiences is a valid and effective approach to measuring racial experiences among African American adolescents.

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