Mossakowski's research focuses on medical sociology, mental health, aging, social psychology, and coping with stress. Overarching themes in Mossakowski's writings include coping with the stress of discrimination and the social determinants of mental health. Mossakowski serves as the President of the Hawaii Sociological Association 2018-2019, member of the editorial board of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior (the flagship medical sociology journal of the American Sociological Association) 2019-2022, and served as advisor for and member of the Board of Directors of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Hawaii, and gave "Live your Life Well" presentations for Mental Health America Hawaii in workplaces on coping with stress and protecting mental health.
Finds racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in psychological distress in the face of everyday discrimination among residents of Hawai'i, with Whites having higher distress than non-Whites, and women having higher distress than men.
Analyzes data over time to determine how chronic poverty and self-esteem influence the relationship between parental socioeconomic status and depressive symptoms. Finds that low parental education influences self-esteem and a high rate of depression, but there is no effect of the prestige of parents' occupation.
Analyzes a national survey of Asian Americans to determine if a link exists between perceived and received social support from family and friends buffers the experience of discrimination and protects psychological well-being. Finds that perceived social support from family for a serious problem helps reduce the impact of everyday discrimination, but does not find a strong link between other forms of support and better well-being in the face of discrimination.
Analyzes a large survey of United States youth for a relationship between unfulfilled expectations in education, parenthood, and marriage and depression later in life. Finds that attaining less education than expected, or becoming a parent unexpectedly while young leads to higher levels of depression years later.
Finds that current or past unemployment status led to increased depressive symptoms among young men and women, with a stronger effect on men.
Finds that Black and Hispanic young adults have higher rates of depressive symptoms than White young adults. Finds that this is partially due to family background and wealth, and substantially due to a history of poverty during youth. Notes the influence of past poverty even if current socioeconomic status is improved.
Uses a survey on youth conducted over time to find that past unemployment status or poverty predicts heavy drinking later in life, independent of factors including current socioeconomic status.
Analyzes a large survey of Filipino Americans to determine whether a link exists between ethnic identification and depressive symptoms. Finds that strong ethnic identity provides a buffer against depressive symptoms, but discrimination not based on ethnic identity increases the likelihood of depressive symptoms.