Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation

12-2015

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department

Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

Clinical Psychology, PhD

Committee Chair

Woodruff-Borden, Janet

Committee Member

Cashon, Cara

Committee Member

Marvin, Kelli

Committee Member

Rosen, Paul

Committee Member

Williams, Monnica

Author's Keywords

anxiety; children; developmental psychopathology; African American; resilience

Abstract

Explanatory models significantly enhance the understanding of etiological influences that place children at risk for anxiety, yet little is known about processes that promote resilient outcomes in children. While contextual factors influence risk and protective processes, cultural constructs have not been incorporated into existing models of anxiety and the role of culture remains obscure. The current study proposes a culturally sensitive model for understanding the etiological and mitigating processes underlying anxious symptoms in ethnic minority youth, and preliminarily tests basic components of the proposed model within a non-clinical community sample of 49 African American (AA) parent-child dyads who completed self-report questionnaires. First, the hypothesis that parental anxious symptoms would be significantly and positively associated with child anxious symptoms was tested. Second, the hypothesis that traditional protective factors would negatively predict child anxiety was examined. Third, the hypothesis that sociocultural variables would share a significant negative relationship with child anxiety was tested. Finally, the hypothesis that the protective effect of culturally-specific constructs would be significant over and above traditional factors alone was investigated. Results yielded partial support. Parent anxiety did not predict child anxiety; however, perceived control and social support were significant negative predictors of anxiety. Among sociocultural variables, ethnic identity (EI) emerged as the only significant predictor of anxiety. Contrary to hypothesis three, EI positively predicted child anxiety, and racial socialization, spiritual coping, and collective coping were not significantly associated with anxiety. Finally, traditional protective factors demonstrated a significant negative relationship with child anxiety after controlling for parent anxiety, and the effect of EI remained significant over and above the protective effects of traditional protective factors. Exploratory analyses examined both child- and parent-level factors as moderators of the EI-child anxiety link. Results did not change when familial context was taken into account, as parent EI did not significantly moderate this association. Traditional protective factors did not moderate the EI-child anxiety link; however, children’s cultural context (i.e., collectivism) demonstrated a significant buffering effect. Findings are discussed in comparison to the existing literature and implications for conceptual models of anxiety are discussed. Limitations are noted and directions for future investigation are recommended.

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