Guided by role theory and the intersectionality framework, this study assesses whether social role volume, role type, and role configuration influence the mental health of Non-Latina White, African American, Afro-Caribbean, Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Chinese, Filipina, and Vietnamese American women.
Contemporary shifts in the primary roles (i.e., worker, spouse, parent) women occupy and in the ethnic composition of the United States necessitate a re-examination of how roles impact U.S. women’s mental health. Moreover, family member and friend roles are relatively understudied.
Drawing data from the nationally representative Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys (CPES) (N = 7370), ordinary least squares (OLS) regression analysis is used to assess the relationship between role volume, role type, role configuration, and mental health for women across nine ethnic groups. We report ethnicity-stratified models.
On one hand, role accumulation was psychologically beneficial for Non-Latina White, African American, Puerto Rican, and Chinese women. On the other hand, the psychological benefits of social roles diminished after accumulating three social roles for Cuban, Mexican, and Filipina women. The psychological influence of specific roles and role configurations for women was dependent on ethnicity.
This study demonstrates the powerful impact of ethnicity on social role engagement as well as the influence of such roles on women’s psychological health.