Neighborhood Disorder, Religious Struggles, and Psychological Distress
Numerous studies show that neighborhood disorder (perceptions of crime and dilapidation) tends to undermine mental health. Although this body of work has made significant contributions, we still know very little about the mechanisms underlying the effects of neighborhood disorder or the conditions under which the effects of neighborhood disorder are more or less pronounced. Building on previous work, this thesis uses data from the 2021 Crime, Health, and Politics Survey (CHAPS) to formally test whether the effects of neighborhood disorder on psychological distress (symptoms of depression, anxiety, and non-specific psychological distress) are mediated and moderated by religious struggles (the experience of religious doubts and negative religious coping). I expected that religious struggles would at least partially mediate (explain) and moderate (amplify) the effects of neighborhood disorder on psychological distress; however, the results of my analyses were more complex. Although I observed statistically significant indirect effects of neighborhood disorder on depression, anxiety, and non-specific psychological distress through religious struggles, the positive association between neighborhood disorder and symptoms of psychological distress was less attenuated, not amplified, at higher levels of religious struggles. In fact, at moderate to high levels of religious struggles, neighborhood disorder was unrelated to depression, anxiety, and non-specific psychological distress. These findings are important because they contribute to previous studies of neighborhood disorder and mental health by incorporating the concept of religious struggles to elaborate on our understanding of the subjective neighborhood experience.