Theses Doctoral

The Living in America Muslim Life Stress, Coping and Life Satisfaction Study: An Online Mixed Methods Study of Islamophobic Discrimination, Microaggressions, and Predictors of Life Satisfaction

TIrhi, Susan Yasen

The relationship between stress, trauma, microaggressions, overt violence and life satisfaction has long been established in the literature. This online study sought to identify significant predictors of life satisfaction in a Muslim American sample (N=247) that was 74.5% (N=184) female, 60.7% (N=150) Arab American/Middle Eastern, 21.9% (N=54) Asian American, and 10.5% (N=25) White. The sample had a mean age of 34.21 years with 70% married (N=173). Some 51.4% were born in the U.S. (51.4%, N=127); and, among those not U.S. born, 15.8% reported their country of origin was Egypt (N=39), followed by Palestinian Territories (6.5%, N=16) and Pakistan (5.7%, N=14). And 19.7% (N=49) have lived in the U.S. for 26-30 years. Also, 35.6% (N=88) completed a bachelor’s degree, 64.8% were employed (N=160) and, 31.6% reported an annual household income in the $50,000-$99,000 bracket. This sample’s mean experience of microaggressions was 7.12 (SD=6.649, min=0, max=24) indicating low experience. While the mean exposure to overt acts of violence was 0.71 (SD= 1.457, min=0, max=9), indicating very low exposure. Regarding life satisfaction, 53.5% of the sample indicated a life satisfaction score of 8 or more (N=132). The mean perception to Islamophobia was 4.076, indicating a high ability to perceive Islamophobia.
Using backwards stepwise regression, higher life satisfaction was significantly predicted by: being less likely to be depressed in the past year (B=-0.59, p=0.012); older age (B=0.038, p=0.001); better overall health status (B=0.361, p=0.001); better rating of quality of provider (B=0.351, p=0.001); lower perceived stress (B=-0.07, p=0.0); lower stage for coping and responding to Islamophobia (B=-0.17, p=0.025); higher use of “stop unpleasant thoughts” coping style (B=0.129, p=0.007) with R2= 0.584 (adjusted R2= 0.566; 56.6% of variance explained).
Quantitative findings were augmented by emergent themes in the qualitative data. Case in point, living in a post-9/11 America and discrimination with subthemes including Islamophobia, acceptability of public discrimination, and destruction of personal property were found to be negatively associated with life satisfaction. Five overarching themes were found to be related to higher life satisfaction and ability to cope: feeling a sense of community, wearing hijab (headscarf for women), religiosity and Islamic identity, work, and financial stability.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Health and Behavior Studies
Thesis Advisors
Wallace, Barbara C.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 6, 2019