Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology


Behavioral Science



First Advisor

Lisa Harlow


The dissertation being presented in the following chapters represents an examination of philosophy of science, underlying theory, empirical evidence, and research design targeted at understanding the relevance of race when communicating stroke prevention to Black Americans. In the introduction is a description of previous research and relevant course work pertaining to the construction of the research question: Is it a good practice of science to communicate race as a disease risk in attempts to modify health behaviors of Black Americans? The work begins with a description as to how race became a construct of interest in American science and demands a paradigm shift in order to ameliorate racial health disparities. This is followed with a discussion on the problematic nature of conceptualizing race as a disease risk. It reviews salient risk literature, specifically, on theories of behavior in response to risk messages. A study conducted as a pilot to this research is also featured and describes the modification of a scale so to measure racial microaggressions between physicians and their Black patients. The final piece, the experiment, reflects an exploration of organizational, interpersonal, and individual predictors of well-being, self-efficacy, and health behavior decision-making in response to the three difference public service announcements (PSAs). The announcements serve as treatment conditions and vary on degrees of racial salience. The effects of communicating race as a disease risk in a PSA that stated “Stroke targets by color” as well as previous experiences of microaggression are determined. The findings are discussed in the context of eliminating health disparities via the critical examination of experts’ research and communicative practices.