This is a proposal to carry out a prospective study of socio-emotional development in early and middle adolescence among Puerto Rican youth living in the mainland of the United States. The project is designed to be a five-year study of 150 boys and 150 girls (ages 13-14 at the starting point of the study) and their primary care-givers from three socio-economic strata (SES). The data will be gathered through face-to- face interviews with the adolescents and their primary care-givers, ethnographic study of the communities (including the school), and archival research for data on demographic and economic conditions of the residential neighborhood and the larger geographic community. The overall goal of the proposed research is to increase our knowledge of normal development among Puerto Rican adolescents in the context of their family, peers, school, neighborhood, their ethnic community and in the context of larger society where they are identified as a minority group member which makes them vulnerable to discrimination and prejudice. The hypotheses to be tested about normal development derive from a cultural-ecological framework. In this framework the developing adolescent is viewed to be embedded in a family, surrounded by an ethnic community, school, and peers which are, in turn, embedded in larger society. The longitudinal hypotheses refer to the three years of adolescent development respondents will go through during the course of the proposed research: (1) The role families play in mediating the effect of external contexts on their children's lives decreases with adolescents' age; (2) Parents' protectiveness toward their adolescent offspring decreases with the adolescents' age; (3) Adolescents' search for an ethnic identity increases with age; and (4) Adolescents' attachment to peers increases with age. The cross-sectional hypotheses are: (5) the more danger families perceive in the environment, the more protective they are of their offspring; (6) Girls are more protected than boys; (7) There is a curvilinear relationship between parental protectiveness and SES whereby middle-class and welfare dependent families are less protective of their offspring (for different reasons) than working-class parents; (8) The less there is family cohesion, the more the adolescent will loosen ties to parents; (9) The more an adolescent experiences discrimination the more advanced she/he will be in searching for an ethnic identity; (10) The negative impact of experiencing discrimination on self-worth will be buffered by ethnic pride and ethnic community solidarity.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (SRC (03))
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Wellesley College
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United States
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Erkut, Sumru (2010) Developing Multiple Language Versions of Instruments for Intercultural Research. Child Dev Perspect 4:19-24
Szalacha, Laura A; Erkut, Sumru; Garcia Coll, Cynthia et al. (2003) Discrimination and Puerto Rican children's and adolescents' mental health. Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol 9:141-55