Stress and Mental Health: Moderating Role of the Strong Black Woman Stereotype

Roxanne A. Donovan, Lindsey M. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Research indicates that Black women highly endorse the Strong Black Woman (SBW) stereotype—a perception that Black women are naturally strong, resilient, self-contained, and self-sacrificing. This endorsement appears to be a good thing, providing Black women protection against the numerous stressors they must contend with daily. However, anecdotal and qualitative evidence suggests that SBW endorsement limits Black women’s ability to cope healthily which exacerbates the negative mental health outcomes of stress. Because few empirical studies of SBW have been conducted, how SBW endorsement might influence the stress–mental health association is unknown. The current study addresses this gap by quantitatively examining the relationships among SBW endorsement, stress, and anxious and depressive symptoms with a sample of 92 Black female college students. Results revealed that both moderate and high levels of SBW endorsement increase the relationship between stress and depressive symptoms, while low levels of SBW endorsement do not. These data extend previous qualitative findings and suggest that embracing the SBW stereotypic image increases Black women’s vulnerability to depressive symptoms associated with stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-396
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Black Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 14 2015


  • African American women
  • Strong Black Woman stereotype
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Applied Psychology


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