Date of Award

12-2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Gabriel Kuperminc, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Wing Yi Chan, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Erin Tully, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Cirleen DeBlaere, Ph.D.

Abstract

Muslim Americans comprise a diverse ethnic and racial minority group in the U.S. Since September 11th, 2001, Muslim Americans have reported increased levels of discrimination (Peek, 2011). However, given their multiple minority identities, it is unclear whether these experiences of discrimination are based upon their racial identity, religious identity or a combination of these identities. Informed by theories of multiple minority stress, intersectionality and resilience, the current study investigated if and how different types of perceived discrimination (racial and religious) affect the mental health and well-being of Muslim American young adults. Furthermore, the study addressed gaps in the literature regarding factors which promote resilience in the face of discrimination. Specifically, the current study explored the role of spirituality as a main or buffering effect in the presence of perceived racial and religious discrimination. In order to gain insight about potential within-group differences in the experiences of racial and religious discrimination, the current study also examined the potential interactive role of racial/ethnic group in the relationships between perceived racial and religious discrimination and mental health outcomes.

This study utilized a sample of 283 Muslim American young adults. Results found that perceived racial and religious discrimination have unique and differential effects on depression and anxiety. When assessed concurrently, racial discrimination predicted depression and anxiety, religious discrimination predicted anxiety and racial discrimination predicted lower life satisfaction. Additionally, results provided evidence to support the additive model of intersectionality, as religious discrimination emerged as a distinct construct from racial discrimination, predicting unique variance in mental health outcomes over and above racial discrimination. In terms of resilience, spirituality had a compensatory effect on mental health, as higher levels of spirituality predicted lower depression and anxiety and higher life satisfaction.

This study fills a gap in the current literature by identifying how specific types of perceived discrimination (measured by racial and religious discrimination) are related to Muslim young adults’ mental health outcomes and how spirituality and race/ethnicity may influence these relationships. This study also contributes to the broader theoretical understanding of discrimination, mental health and well-being in minority populations and points to the importance of continued intersectionality work on these topics.

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Available for download on Thursday, August 27, 2020

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