Claudia Catalan

Major and Classification

Narrative Studies

Faculty Mentor

Tess Boley Cruz, Ph.D., Department of Preventative Medicine


Dornsife: Narrative Studies

Research Gateway Project

“Colorful People, Colorful Fruit? American Minority Group’s Cultural Identity Through Food”

Project Abstract

Recent research studies exist relating cultural factors of identities, such as race or ethnicity, to mental health issues, in American minority groups, which extend from depression or anxiety, to body image or eating disorders. To better understand health behavior amongst these minority groups, researchers are investigating novelty aspects of cultural identities, such as food. This study explores the direct relationship between cultural beliefs and symbols in ethnic or minority American groups, to food choice, in the format of a literature review. Data was collected using databases related to several fields of studies – communications, psychology, and sociology. Based upon preliminary findings, race and desires of an ethnic or minority American group has the highest impact on food selection and/or food behavior. Moving forward, further examination will be conducted through quantitative and qualitative research, to find: how do these food choices affect individual self-perception, non-food related values and personal relationships? The continued research and findings seek to uncover innovative educational and/or therapeutic methods to improve public mental health.