Examining the presence of chronic distinctiveness on the campus of an Historically Black College and University
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The aim of this study is to examine the presence of chronic racial distinctiveness among college students who self-identify as African American, African, and those of African descent, who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). At present, the literature mainly highlights the effects of distinctiveness on women in work environments and minorities who attend Predominately White Institutions (PWIs). As African American students increasingly aspire to complete undergraduate and graduate study, examining the presence of distinctiveness on HBCU campuses not only will enhance educational performances and outcomes but also may help improve psychotherapy services and mental health concerns for individuals who encounter both acute and chronic distinctiveness. The present study focuses on three research questions that are essential to examining the similarities and differences regarding distinctiveness among students who attend HBCUs. How does a brief distinctiveness scale (Pollak & Niemann, 1998) compare to a collection of scales that measure the three hypothesized factors of distinctiveness? Are there gender differences in chronic racial distinctiveness in the current sample? Do students who attend an HBCU report feelings of chronic distinctiveness? There were 61 undergraduate students from one HBCU located within the southeast geographical location of the United States that completed the study. Results indicated that the collection of scales and the brief existing measure have conceptual overlap indicating that they measure similar constructs. The results also indicated that gender differences are not significant. Lastly, the results indicated that chronic distinctiveness exists when students of African ancestry are in the majority setting (i.e. HBCU). The current research represents an important first step in examining chronic distinctiveness for African Americans in a majority setting. Implications for helping African American students are discussed, as well as recommendations for future research.