Date of Award

2000

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Lenore S. Brantley

Second Advisor

Wilfred G. A. Futcher

Third Advisor

Elvin S. Gabriel

Abstract

Problem. The salutary effect of religion is receiving greater acceptance among researchers, and its positive association with both physical and mental health has been increasingly examined in the scientific literature. Since religion has played a central role in the lives of Blacks, and since previous research has identified positive correlations between some religious attributes and individual well-being, it would seem that religious Black families would enjoy a greater degree of health.

A religious commitment model encompassing affiliation, participation, devotional intensity, and practices was used in the investigation of Black families' mental health and life satisfaction. As the first study of this kind, integrating four scientifically proven dimensions within the religious commitment model, this study sought to identify and re-emphasize the beneficial facets of religiosity as they relate to Black families.

Method. A randomized sample consisting of 236 Black families residing in the United States completed a family questionnaire. The data analysis was effected through multiple regression, canonical analysis, as well as t -tests and chi-square analyses. The .05 significance level was observed throughout the analysis.

Results. Eight research questions were examined through the analysis of 14 hypotheses. Each of the four dimensions of religious commitment showed significant correlations with Black family mental health. Two facets of the devotional intensity dimension, family prayer and family feeling close to God, achieved the most frequent significant correlations with healthy family relationships and system maintenance.

Religious commitment was not observed to significantly correlate with Black family life satisfaction. Significant differences between Seventh-day Adventist and non-Seventh-day Adventist families were noted on the Family Functioning scales and the religious commitment variables. No significant differences were noted between the two groups with respect to their life satisfaction and their feeling close to God.

Conclusions. Most Black families reported an average to high life satisfaction, and the majority felt very close to God. Religious commitment correlated with various aspects of Black family mental health. Strong family characteristics included cohesion, expressiveness, religious emphasis, organization, sociability, as well as intellectual and cultural orientation. Black Seventh-day Adventist families seemed to be more democratic, and embraced to a greater degree intellectual, cultural, and religious values.

Subject Area

African Americans--Religious life, African American Seventh-day Adventists, African Americans--Mental health

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