New Article: Abu-Kaf and Braun-Lewensohn, Paths to Depression. Comparing Bedouin Arab and Jewish Students

Abu-Kaf, Sarah and Orna Braun-Lewensohn. “Paths to Depression Among Two Different Cultural Contexts. Comparing Bedouin Arab and Jewish Students.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46.4 (2015): 612-30.





Over the past two decades, there has been an increase in the number of Bedouin Arab students studying at institutions of higher education in Southern Israel. To date, research on Bedouin students is limited, particularly with regard to their coping and adjustment. The main aim of the current study is to shed more light on potential pathways between vulnerability factors and depression among Bedouin Arab and Jewish students. This study was designed to explore cultural differences in the levels of self-criticism, depression, coping, and social support among Bedouin Arab college/university students and their Jewish peers, and to examine the effects of self-criticism on depression in the two cultural contexts. To that end, we conducted a cross-sectional study of 108 Bedouin students and 109 Jewish students. The participants completed the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire, Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey, Orientations to Problems Experienced Inventory, the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, and demographic questionnaire. In this work, we observed differences in the levels of self-criticism, depression, avoidant coping, and social support in the different groups. Moreover, among the Jewish participants, self-criticism affected depression directly. However, among the Bedouin Arabs, self-criticism affected depression only indirectly, through avoidant coping. The present study highlights the possibility that specific cultural contexts underscore the role of avoidant coping in the pathways between self-criticism and depression, whereas other cultural contexts underscore the direct effect of self-criticism on depression levels. Furthermore, the current research underscores the importance of cross-cultural perspectives in studies of vulnerability factors and depression.

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