Rumination Moderates the Association between Resting High-Frequency Heart Rate Variability and Perceived Ethnic Discrimination


Journal Article

© 2017 Hogrefe Publishing. Ethnic discrimination (ED) is both an unfortunate and uncontrollable phenomenon that uniquely impacts African Americans (AAs) and other individuals of ethnic minority status. Perceived ethnic discrimination (PED), defined as the degree to which an individual consciously perceives a negative event as discriminatory and threatening, largely determines the impact that ED can have on target individuals. However, research has not yet considered how individual differences in both emotion regulation abilities, as indexed by resting high-frequency heart rate variability (HF-HRV), and rumination, a maladaptive emotion regulation strategy, may predict PED in AAs. The following investigation examined this relationship in a sample of 101 college-aged students (45 AAs and 56 Caucasian Americans). Resting HF-HRV was assessed via electrocardiogram during a 5-minute-resting period. Rumination was assessed using the ruminative responses scale and everyday PED was assessed using the perceived ethnic discrimination questionnaire. Results showed a significant negative relationship between resting HF-HRV and PED in AAs only. Rumination significantly moderated this relationship, such that lower HF-HRV was related to higher PED only in AAs who reported moderate to higher, β = 0.417 (0.125), p <.01, levels of trait rumination. These results suggest that greater HF-HRV and lesser ruminative tendencies are key factors in reducing PED and therefore possibly, negative consequences associated with ED.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Williams, DP; Pandya, KD; Hill, LK; Kemp, AH; Way, BM; Thayer, JF; Koenig, J

Published Date

  • January 1, 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 33 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 13 - 21

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2151-2124

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0269-8803

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1027/0269-8803/a000201

Citation Source

  • Scopus