Everyday discrimination and diurnal cortisol during adolescence

Virginia W. Huynh, Shu Sha Angie Guan, David M. Almeida, Heather McCreath, Andrew J. Fuligni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Purpose: To examine the associations of the frequency and type of everyday discrimination with diurnal cortisol and whether those associations depend upon adolescents' ethnicity and gender. Methods: Adolescents (N = 292, Mage = 16. 39 years, SD = 0.74; 58% female) reported the frequency of perceived everyday discrimination and whether they attributed that discrimination to race, gender, age, or height and weight. Five saliva samples were collected per day across 3 days and assayed for cortisol. Results: Higher frequency of everyday discrimination was associated with greater total daily cortisol output (area under the curve; AUC), lower wake and bedtime levels of cortisol, and less of a decline in cortisol across the day. These associations generally did not depend upon ethnicity or gender and attributions for the discrimination were not as consequential as the actual frequency of any type of unfair treatment. Conclusion: Everyday discrimination, regardless of its type, may contribute to heightened HPA activity among adolescents of different ethnic backgrounds and genders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-81
Number of pages6
JournalHormones and Behavior
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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