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Status Inequalities, Perceived Discrimination, and Eudaimonic Well-Being: Do the Challenges of Minority Life Hone Purpose and Growth?

Carol D. Ryff, Corey L. M. Keyes and Diane L. Hughes
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 44, No. 3, Special Issue: Race, Ethnicity, and Mental Health (Sep., 2003), pp. 275-291
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1519779
Page Count: 17
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Status Inequalities, Perceived Discrimination, and Eudaimonic Well-Being: Do the Challenges of Minority Life Hone Purpose and Growth?
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Abstract

Considerable prior research has investigated links between racial/ethnic status and diverse aspects of mental functioning (e.g. psychological disorders, quality of life, self-esteem), but little work has probed the connections between minority status and eudaimonic well-being. Derived from existential and humanistic perspectives, eudaimonia describes engagement in life challenges and is operationalized with assessments of purpose in life, personal growth, autonomy, environmental mastery, self-acceptance, and positive relations with others. Using Midlife in the United States (MIDUS), a national survey of Americans aged 25-74, plus city-specific samples of African Americans in New York City and Mexican Americans in Chicago, minority status was found to be a positive predictor of eudaimonic well-being, underscoring themes of psychological strength in the face of race-related adversity. Perceived discrimination was found to be a negative predictor of eudaimonic well-being, although such effects were gender-specific: it was women, both majority and minority, with high levels of discrimination in their daily lives whose sense of growth, mastery, autonomy, and self-acceptance was compromised.

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