Belief in the American Indian/Alaska Native biological vulnerability myth and drinking to cope: Does stereotype threat play a role?

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Objectives: The effects of stereotype threat and internalized alcohol stereotypes on negative affect and negative affect-related drinking have not been examined in American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs), despite their frequently being subjected to alcohol stereotypes. The current study examined the association of belief in the myth of an AI/AN specific biological vulnerability (BV) with alcohol consequences through its effect on depression and drinking to cope with negative affect. Method: In this cross-sectional study, a moderated mediation model examined the association of belief in a BV with alcohol consequences via sequential mediators of depression and drinking to cope. It was hypothesized that the positive association of belief in a BV with depression would be stronger among individuals who engaged in more frequent heavy episodic drinking. Participants were 109 female (69.9%) and 47 male (30.1%) AI/AN college students (Mage = 27.1 years, range 18 to 61) who reported having at least 1 drink in the past month. Results: Belief in a BV was positively associated with depression symptoms among participants reporting average or high frequency of heavy episodic drinking. Greater depression symptoms predicted greater drinking to cope, which in turn predicted greater alcohol consequences. Conclusion: Belief in the BV myth may act as a type of stereotype threat, contributing to alcohol consequences by increasing negative affect and drinking to cope. These results suggest that for AI/ANs who drink, there are psychological and behavioral health ramifications of believing in the notion of a BV, and a need to debunk this myth.




Gonzalez, Vivian M., Adrienne Burroughs, and Monica C. Skewes. “Belief in the American Indian/Alaska Native Biological Vulnerability Myth and Drinking to Cope: Does Stereotype Threat Play a Role?” Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology 27, no. 1 (January 2021): 37–46. doi:10.1037/cdp0000366.
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