Mexican American youth are at higher risk for a number of adaptation problems, including mental health problems, drug abuse, incarceration, school failure and drop out, and teenage pregnancy, than youth from other ethnic groups including other Latino groups. Although Mexican Americans are one of the largest and most rapidly growing ethnic groups in the U.S., very little research has been done to improve understanding of why some Mexican Americans are at very high risk for poor adaptation while others are quite resilient. A person-environment fit perspective is proposed to guide an investigation into how Mexican American children's cultural orientations (i.e., enculturation and acculturation) and the cultural contexts of their family, community, and school account for variation in adaptation within this population. A multi-dimensional measure of both traditional Mexican values (i.e., enculturation) and mainstream U.S. values (acculturation) which we developed and pilot tested will allow us to provide more sensitive tests of the person-environment fit perspective to Mexican American youth than was possible in previous research. We will focus on three ? Specific Aims: (1) examine interactions between children's cultural orientation and cultural contexts (i.e., family, community, school) as predictors of adaptation; (2) identify mediators of the influences of children's cultural orientation on adjustment and examine whether these relationships depend upon culture x context interactions; and (3) examine the role of children's cultural orientations and cultural contexts as moderators of influences of common risk and protective factors (transition to junior high, puberty, family SES, quality of home environment, quality of community) on their adjustment. A longitudinal study is proposed that will follow 700 Mexican American children through the transition to junior high. Sample selection will begin with the selection of 25-30 school communities in the Phoenix metropolitan area that represent the continuum from very high Mexican American population density and cultural embeddedness to very low. Families will be recruited through schools in these communities. We will use a multiple reporter approach including relevant data from mothers, fathers, target children, teachers, school records, and census data. Most analyses will be accomplished using structural equation modeling and multi-level analysis. ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Social Sciences, Nursing, Epidemiology and Methods 4 (SNEM)
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Boyce, Cheryl A
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Arizona State University-Tempe Campus
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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