Examining the associations between perceived discrimination and psychological distress in a Muslim American sample

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2020-08

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Abstract

Minorities who experience discrimination are at high risk for negative behavioral health outcomes. Muslim Americans are a religious minority in the United States, comprising about 1% of the total population. Research suggests that the political climate of the United States in the last two decades has increased persecution and discrimination towards Muslim Americans. However, few studies have examined the relationship between discrimination and psychological distress in Muslim Americans. Further, Muslim Americans may have protective factors that buffer the effects of discrimination on distress, including social support from their in-group, high religiosity, and a strong sense of religious identity. Research suggests these three variables moderate the effects of discrimination on psychological distress in other minority groups. The current study examined the main effect of perceived discrimination on psychological distress in a sample of 524 Muslim Americans. Further, this study explored the effects of religiosity, social support, and religious identity on the discrimination—distress relationship. Perceived discrimination was significantly associated with psychological distress among Muslim Americans in this sample. Contrary to expectations, religiosity, social support, and religious identity did not significantly moderate the relationship between discrimination and distress. Additional exploratory analyses were conducted to examine the moderating role of variables such as age and visibility of religious identity on the discrimination—distress relationship. Significant findings are explored in the context of established theories. Gender and generation differences are also explored. Research and clinical implications are considered, and future directions are explored.

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Keywords

Social psychology, Clinical psychology, Discrimination, Muslim American, Muslim, Perceived discrimination, Psychological distress, Islam, Islam and psychology, Arab american, Minority stress, Minority stress model

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