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Do Hostility and Neuroticism Confound Associations Between Perceived Discrimination and Depressive Symptoms?

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A growing body of research links perceived discrimination to psychological distress, yet recent reviews of this literature suggest that the subjectivity inherent in reports of discrimination is an important methodological consideration. Specifically, personality characteristics may predispose individuals to psychological distress and also affect whether discrimination is perceived, thereby spuriously inflating associations between discrimination and mental health. The present study examined this possibility. Gay and bisexual men (N = 250) completed self–report measures of perceived discrimination, depressive symptoms, hostility, and neuroticism. Perceived discrimination was positively associated with depressive symptoms. Hostility and neuroticism were both significant confounders of this relation, together accounting for 42% of the observed association between discrimination and depression. Discrimination remained a significant predictor of depressive symptoms even after controlling for hostility and neuroticism.