College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-21-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Kathryn Grant, PhD

Second Advisor

Kimberly Quinn, PhD


African American adolescents living in low-income, urban neighborhoods are at high risk for developing psychological problems due to increased exposure to urban stressors. Given the complexity and chronic nature of these stressors, protective factors such as involvement in one’s religious institution may protect adolescents from harmful stressors associated with living in urban, low-income neighborhoods. This thesis sought to examine whether religious participation is an effective moderator of the relation between urban stressful life experiences and internalizing/externalizing psychological outcomes among low-income, urban African American adolescents. Two dimensions of religious participation, organizational and non-organizational, were examined as potential moderators of the effect of religious participation on the stress and internalizing/internalizing psychological outcomes. Participants included 1238 low-income, urban African American adolescents from three Chicago Public Schools who completed self-report measures assessing urban adolescent life experiences, religious participation, and internalizing/externalizing behaviors. Results of this study showed that although urban stress significantly predicted both internalizing and externalizing outcomes in low-income, urban African American adolescents, neither frequency of youth church attendance, public and private religious participation moderated the relation between urban stress and internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Overall, the findings suggested that religious participation for early-age, low-income, urban African American adolescents may not provide the protective barriers against urban stressors and the development of negative psychological outcomes as expected.

SLP Collection


Included in

Psychology Commons