Racial/Ethnic Heterogeneity, Religion, and Mental Health: Examining the Influence of Religiosity on African American and Afro-Caribbean Subjective Well-Being
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Religion is important to most African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans. Church attendance is positively associated with aspects of subjective well-being. However, research concerning the influence of religiosity on African Americans' and Afro-Caribbeans' subjective well-being is scarce. Research into whether measures other than church attendance is positively linked to measures of subjective well-being is thin. In addition, investigations into which mechanisms shape religion's impact on subjective well-being for both groups are also lacking. Next, investigations into whether religiosity buffers the influence of stressors on subjective well-being is limited. To address these concerns this three-part study examined the relationship among race/ethnicity, dimensions of religiosity, psychological and social resources, stressors, and subjective well-being for African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans. I used data from the National Survey of American Life (NSAL; Jackson et al. 2004) to conduct my investigation. Collectively these studies address the following overarching research questions: Is religiosity (organizational religious involvement and non-organizational religious involvement) associated with better subjective well-being for both African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans? Does religious social support mediate the relationship between religiosity and subjective well-being? Does racial discrimination adversely impact subjective well-being for African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans? Does religiosity buffer the adverse impact of racial discrimination on subjective well-being for both groups? Does religiosity interact with financial stress to influence subjective well-being? Does self-esteem mediate any buffering effects of religiosity on this relationship? Results showed that organizational religious involvement was positively associated with African American and Afro-Caribbean's subjective well-being. Non-organizational religious involvement had no association with most measures (Only position on the life ladder). Organizational religious involvement benefited happiness, life satisfaction, and position on life ladder more for Afro-Caribbean immigrants than African Americans and U.S born Afro-Caribbeans. Religious social support partially mediated the relationships between organizational religious involvement and life satisfaction and position on the life ladder for African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans. Organizational religious involvement fully mediated the relationship between organizational religious involvement and self-rated mental health for both groups. Next, organizational religious involvement did not help protect subjective well-being against the negative effects of racial discrimination for African Americans. Organizational religious involvement alleviated the negative impact of racial discrimination on happiness more for Afro-Caribbean non-immigrants and the other two groups. In addition, organizational religious involvement buffered the negative effect of racial discrimination on being on a better position on the life ladder more for Afro-Caribbean immigrants than their counterparts. Finally, organizational religious involvement was associated with less adverse effects of financial stress on subjective well-being. Organizational religious involvement buffered the deleterious effect of financial stress on subjective well-being by protecting self-esteem.
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