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Unconscious physical reactions to racial discrimination

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2019 | Workplace Discrimination

When you experience racial discrimination and rejection, it impacts you in many ways. Some of these, you are probably well aware of. You feel angry. You feel frustrated. It makes you irate, as it should. Discrimination is not just illegal, but it is an attack on a personal level to things outside of your control.

However, did you know that your body responds in some ways that you may not even be conscious of? Researchers studied it, and one noted that “the race of the person who rejects you alters the responses to social rejection.”

What they found was that a person who was discriminated against by someone who was of a different ethnic or racial background than they were demonstrated:

  • Lower vascular resistance
  • More anger
  • Increased cardiac output
  • Lower cortisol reactivity
  • More risk-taking behavior
  • Greater sensitivity to rewards
  • Increased vigilance as they searched for stressors and negative information

As you can see, discrimination and rejection can make you more aware of negative events in your life, it can change the way that you act and how you crave rewards and it can create physical changes you may not even be aware of yourself. It’s important to understand this impact, especially if you have been working in a high-stress environment where you experience repeated acts of discrimination. It could have a highly detrimental impact on your life, your body and your emotional state.

If this does happen to you, it’s also important to know what legal options you have. Remember, workplace discrimination is illegal, and you do have a lot of rights under current employment laws.


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