Theory has posited that discrepancies in acculturation between Hispanic adolescents and their parents are associated with conduct problems, drug/alcohol use, and sexual risk taking. These discrepancies may also be associated with compromised levels of positive development. These effects are assumed to occur via poor family functioning. However, empirical tests of the differential acculturation hypothesis have yielded inconsistent results. The proposed study will use a multidimensional model of acculturation - including behaviors, values, and identifications - and will use state-of-the-art latent variable methods to examine parent-adolescent discrepancies in acculturation and their effects on behavioral outcomes through family functioning. 300 Hispanic adolescents and their primary parents will be randomly selected from six public high schools in Miami and from six public high schools in Los Angeles. Adolescents and parents will be assessed twice per year between 9th and 12th grade. Parents and adolescents will complete measures of Hispanic and American cultural behaviors, values, and identifications;family functioning;and adolescent behavior. Adolescents will report on their drug use, sexual behavior, and indices of thriving (prosocial behavior, school grades, and positive attitudes and traits). The results will inform theory regarding the extent to which discrepancies in acculturation lead to compromised family functioning in Hispanic families, and the extent to which these problems in family functioning are associated with conduct problems, drug/alcohol use, sexual risk taking, and impaired thriving. The results will also be important regarding the need to incorporate cultural concerns into efforts to prevent problems and to promote positive development in Hispanic adolescents and families.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed study will examine the ways in which recent-immigrant Hispanic families acculturate to the United States. Specifically, we will examine how the development of cultural differences between Hispanic immigrant parents and adolescents are associated with behavior problems, drug and alcohol use, and sexual risk taking - and with lowered levels of positive development (grades, positive behavior, caring, et cetera) - through family problems. Provided that our hypotheses are supported, this will suggest that family strengthening interventions may be important for Hispanic immigrant families - a sizeable and rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
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Social Psychology, Personality and Interpersonal Processes Study Section (SPIP)
Program Officer
Schulden, Jeffrey D
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University of Miami School of Medicine
Schools of Medicine
Coral Gables
United States
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