Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Carole Woolford-Hunt

Second Advisor

Elvin Gabriel

Third Advisor

Tevni Grajales



Research on the role of religion and ethnicity in the identity orientation of women has been largely neglected in psychology for many years. While previous identity studies have attempted to examine a range of variables as it relates to the general population, how women specifically experience identity based on their gender has not been included, resulting in gaps in the research literature. The present study is intended to add to the literature by focusing on the contributing factors of religiosity and ethnic identity to identity orientation and compare how they vary among African American and Caucasian American women.


This study used the Aspects of Identity Questionnaire IV (AIQ-IV), the Brief Religiosity Scale 6 (BRS-6), and the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM) to examine the relationships between the variables. A non-experimental, correlational survey research design was used to examine the personal, social, collective and relational factors of Identity Orientation. To store and organize the data, as well as generate descriptive statistics, the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS21) was used. To test the research hypothesis and perform structural equation modeling (SEM), IBM SPSS21 Amos 21 (Arbuckle, 2012) was used.


The hypothesized structural equation model suggested a good fit with collected data. Therefore no respecifications of the model was warranted. Religiosity had a moderate impact on identity orientation in the full sample. The original model was also assessed to examine differences between African American women and Caucasian American women. The model achieved a good fit for African American women, as well as for Caucasian American women. When comparing the two groups, religiosity was found to have approximately three times as much impact on the identity orientation of African American Women than Caucasian American women.


This study demonstrated that religiosity and ethnic identity contribute to identity orientation. It also demonstrated that religiosity explains a moderate amount of the variance in identity orientation. Findings indicated variations according to ethnicity. These findings have implications for the field of counseling psychology, and for researchers studying identity orientation. In particular, this study suggested that the contribution of religiosity to the identity orientation may be an important target of clinical intervention.

Subject Area

Religiousness; Ethnicity; African American women; Caucasian American women; Women--Identity