Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Thomas Petros


The present study examined bicultural self-efficacy and its relationship to resilience in Northern Plains American Indians. American Indians in the Northern Plains, like many tribes in the United States, experienced a calamitous history marked by interactions with the federal government that were often fatal to the Indigenous peoples of North America, and found to contribute to a conflicted individual and collective well-being of these people within the Northern Plains region. As such, the investigation sought to identify the relationships between that of cultural identity, resilience, and negative life events, or risk, to measures of psychopathology. To that end, efforts involved the use of a number of assessments to evaluate Northern Plains American Indian community members and college students on general characteristics of past risk or trauma experienced, cultural identity, a measure of resilience via endorsement of protective factors, and internal (psychological) adaptation.

The study consisted of 198 participants (130 female, 68 male), ages 18-74 recruited from the University of North Dakota main campus and a tribal Community College. Participants were from a variety of Northern Plains tribes. A simultaneous multiple regression and analysis of variance (ANOVA) were utilized to test hypotheses with a Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), analyzing each criterion variable of anxiety and hopelessness; with ethnicity, age, resilience, Northern Plains Biculturalism Inventory - III (NPBI-III) cultural classification, indices of Bicultural

Self-Efficacy, and exposure to cumulative negative life events as predictors. Interactions within the Simultaneous multiple regression was analyzed to see if resilience served to negate the impact of stress on indices of psychological well-being in American Indian participants.

Results indicated that the endorsement of protective factors tapped by the resilience construct were negatively associated with anxiety and hopelessness. Furthermore, resilience was found to moderate the relationship between negative life events and hopelessness, but only at medium and high levels of self-reported resilience. Thus, the relationship of negative life events with hopelessness was unaffected when self-reported protective factors were low. In contrast, self-reported endorsement of negative life events or risk was positively correlated with indices of psychopathology in this study. Next, scores on the measure of cultural identification (NPBI-III) was positively correlated with indices of bicultural self-efficacy as measured by the Bicultural Self-Efficacy Scale (BSES). With respect to bicultural self-efficacy, the Role Repertoire subscale within the BSES construct were found to predict hopelessness, being positively correlated with hopelessness; whereas, the Communication subscale of the BSES was found to predict anxiety, being negatively correlated with the measure of anxiety. Interestingly, the BSES subscales were largely unrelated to cumulative adversity experienced (i.e., negative life events). However, BSES subscale scores were positively related to scores on the resilience measure. In particular, the Positive Attitudes subscale and Communication subscales both significantly contributed to the prediction of resilience within this sample.