Date of Award

8-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Dawn M. Szymanski

Committee Members

Brent Mallinckrodt, Joseph Miles, Drew Paul

Abstract

Despite increased public attention in the past decade towards the Middle East and Arab world, only a small but growing body of research literature investigating the mental health of individuals with ethnic background originating in these countries exists. Given the major stigma associated with being Middle Eastern/Arab (MEA) in the United States, the mental health-related implications for MEA Americans is of particular interest in the present study. Specifically, we investigated (1) the moderating role of religiosity in the link between religious affiliation and ethnic discrimination and (2) potential mediators (coping via internalization, detachment, and drugs/alcohol) and moderators (ethnic identity and family connectedness) in the relationship between ethnic discrimination and psychological distress among 122 MEA Americans. We found that Muslim identification predicted ethnic discrimination for MEAs with high but not low religiosity. In addition, higher levels of ethnic discrimination and more coping with discrimination via internalization, detachment, and drugs and alcohol were uniquely related to higher levels of psychological distress. Finally, family connectedness buffered the link between discrimination and coping via internalization. Future research directions and clinical implications are discussed.

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