Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Psychology: Clinical-Counseling Psychology
The current study intended to expand upon psychological research on the Arab American community, which has faced increased discrimination since 9/11 and recent ISIS-related terrorist attacks. Since perceived discrimination has been associated with greater psychological distress among Arab Americans, it is important to determine whether any protective factors are available for this community. In a sample of Arab Americans, the relationship between perceived discrimination and aspects of psychological well-being (i.e., self-esteem, flourishing, and satisfaction with life) were examined in order to gain a better overall picture of Arab American mental health. Because ethnic identity has been recognized as a protective factor against discrimination for other minority groups, it was examined as such for the current sample. Ethnic identity exploration, resolution, and affirmation were studied in relation to psychological well-being, and ethnic identity was studied as a moderator between perceived discrimination and psychological well-being. A recent typology created by Umaña-Taylor, Yazedjian, and Bámaca-Gómez (2004) was used to classify participants into ethnic identity clusters based on degrees of exploration, resolution, and affirmation. The sample comprised 156 self-identified Arab Americans living in the United States who were at least 18 years of age. Results from multiple regression analyses demonstrated that perceived discrimination was negatively related to self-esteem and flourishing. Ethnic identity exploration was not significantly related to psychological well-being. However, ethnic identity resolution and affirmation were significantly, positively related to self-esteem, flourishing, and satisfaction with life. Ethnic identity affirmation appeared to be a moderator by mitigating the impact of perceived discrimination on flourishing. Based on Umaña-Taylor and colleagues’ (2003) typology, four ethnic identity clusters emerged using a hierarchal cluster analysis, and participants fell into one of the following: (a) Achieved Positive, (b) Diffuse Positive, (c) Moratorium Positive, and (d) Diffuse Negative. Findings are generally consistent with previous research among various minority groups, as well as Erikson’s (1968) theory and Tajfel’s (1981) theory. However, the current study suggests that it may be ethnic identity affirmation that serves as protective factor against discrimination, rather than ethnic identity exploration or resolution. Therefore, future studies are encouraged to study the components of ethnic identity independently of one another.
Atari, Rawan, "The Impact of Ethnic Identity on Psychological Well-Being and Perceived Discrimination among Arab Americans" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 743.