Academic Commons

Theses Doctoral

The Relationship of Cultural Affiliation and Cultural Congruency to Depression, Anxiety, and Psychological Well-Being among Native Hawaiian College Students

Scanlan, Kolone

Native Hawaiians are the indigenous people of Hawai'i or those living descendants from the original inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands. Despite the preponderance of evidence of health disparities within this community there is a scarcity of research on the mental health and psychological well-being of this population. Native Hawaiians and other indigenous peoples share a common history of devastating losses from the fallout of imposed colonialism including the decline of their cultural identity. Some research suggests that identifying with one's ethnic minority group may act as a psychological buffer and insulate the potential negative impact of some of the historical injustices, marginalization and disparities found within these groups (Outten, Schmitt, Garcia, & Branscombe, 2009; Smith & Silva; 2011). The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the cultural variables of Hawaiian cultural affiliation, campus cultural congruence, and anxiety, depression, and psychological well-being among a sample of Native Hawaiian college participants (N =184). It was hypothesized that higher levels of cultural affiliation and cultural congruity would be inversely related to anxiety and depression. Additionally, it was hypothesized that higher cultural affiliation and cultural congruity would result in higher levels of psychological well-being and lower levels of psychological distress. A mediation model was used to further explore these relationships. Finally, the study explored how cultural congruity moderates the relationship between cultural affiliation and psychological well-being and psychological distress. Correlational analyses and multiple regression analyses were used to evaluate the relationships among these variables. The results confirmed that higher levels of cultural affiliation and cultural congruity were inversely related to anxiety and depression. Moreover, the findings indicated that cultural affiliation explained variance in psychological well-being over and above that accounted for by anxiety and depression, suggesting a direct effect between cultural affiliation and psychological well-being. Finally, it was found that Native Hawaiian students who reported both higher cultural affiliation and higher cultural congruity also reported greater psychological well-being, suggesting that the strength of campus cultural congruity moderates the impact of cultural affiliation on the psychological well-being of Native Hawaiian students. The limitations and implications for future research and counseling are discussed.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for Scanlan_columbia_0054D_11698.pdf Scanlan_columbia_0054D_11698.pdf application/pdf 599 KB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Gushue, George V.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 31, 2013