Psychological Well-being in Muslim Women

Status: Completed

Contact: Marieke Jasperse, Colleen Ward

Principal Researchers: Marieke Jasperse & Colleen Ward

Part of ongoing research into the experiences of Muslims in New Zealand.

This study employed survey methods to investigate the nature and extent of perceived religious discrimination in 153 Muslim women in New Zealand and the impact of discrimination on their psychological well-being. It also explored psychological and behavioural aspects of being Muslim: 1) identity or a psychological sense of pride and belongingness, 2) Muslim behaviours and traditions, specifically religious practices and 3) visibility, traditional Muslim dress (hijab) in relation to life satisfaction and psychological distress.

Download Marieke's thesis pdf315KB

Key findings include


  • Reports of perceived discrimination were generally low.
  • Discrimination occurred more often in subtle, rather than overt, forms.
  • Strangers and service people were the most common sources of discrimination.
  • Religious discrimination was associated with visibility- i.e., wearing hijab, but at the same time, women spoke of the meaningful, positive and protective aspects of traditional, modest Muslim dress.


  • Women who wore hijab more frequently and to a greater degree reported greater life satisfaction and fewer symptoms of psychological distress.
  • Discrimination exerted a negative effect on psychological well-being for those with a strong Islamic identity, but traditional Islamic practices buffered the negative consequences of discrimination.

The research confirmed the psychological benefits of Islamic practices.