Acculturation Conflict Among Latino Youth: Discrimination, Ethnic Identity, and Depressive Symptoms

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Objectives: Patterns of parent–adolescent conflict differ between immigrant and nonimmigrant families living in the United States (Fuligni, 1998). Despite this, there is limited empirical literature examining the nuanced nature of parent–adolescent conflict in immigrant families. To fill this gap, the current study examined the role of 2 types of conflict (i.e., general and acculturation) in predicting psychosocial outcomes (i.e., depressive symptoms and ethnic identity) among Latino adolescents, and whether these relationships differ within the context of peer discrimination. Method: All survey administration was completed in the participating school’s cafeteria. The sample consisted of 7th through 10th graders (n = 172) with a mean age of 14.01 years (SD = 1.32.) The sample consisted of 53% females, and was primarily Mexican in origin (78%). Results: As hypothesized, parent–adolescent acculturation conflict uniquely predicted greater depressive symptoms and lower ethnic private regard, even when controlling for parent–adolescent general conflict. However, acculturation conflict predicted lower ethnic private regard only in the presence of greater peer discrimination. More specifically, peer discrimination moderated the relation between acculturation conflict and ethnic private regard such that adolescents who reported the highest levels of acculturation conflict and peer discrimination reported the lowest levels of ethnic private regard. Conclusions: These results suggest that for Latino youth and their families, acculturation conflict may be particularly problematic, as compared with general conflict. In addition, youth who face ethnicity-based stressors in both familial and school contexts are especially at risk in their ethnic identity development.

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