Perceived Discrimination and Sexual Precursor Behaviors in Mexican American Preadolescent Girls: The Role of Psychological Distress, Sexual Attitudes, and Marianismo Beliefs

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Objectives: This study explored the relation between perceived discrimination and sexual precursor behaviors among 205 Mexican American preadolescent middle school girls. In addition, this study examined whether psychological distress and sexual attitudes mediated and whether marianismo beliefs moderated this relation. Method: A categorical confirmatory factor analysis (CCFA) of the Marianismo Beliefs Scale (MBS) was conducted to test the factor structure with a preadolescent Mexican American population (ages 11–14). A path analysis of analytic models was then performed to examine the hypothesized relations between perceived discrimination, psychological distress, sexual attitudes, marianismo beliefs, and sexual precursor behaviors. Results: Results of the CCFA did not support the original 5-factor structure of the MBS for preadolescent Latina girls. However, a revised version of the MBS indicated an acceptable model fit, and findings from the path analysis indicated that perceived discrimination was both directly and indirectly linked to sexual precursor behaviors via psychological distress. Marianismo was not found to moderate the relation between perceived discrimination and sexual risk behaviors, however certain marianismo pillars were significantly negatively linked with sexual attitudes and precursor behaviors. Conclusions: This study underscores the importance of psychological distress in the perceived discrimination and sexual precursor link as well as the compensatory aspects of marianismo against sexual precursor behaviors in Mexican American preadolescent girls.

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