Longitudinal trajectories of bicultural identity integration in recently immigrated Hispanic adolescents: Links with mental health and family functioning

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Abstract

This study examined, in a sample of recently immigrated Hispanic adolescents in Miami and Los Angeles, the extent to which bicultural identity integration (BII; involving the ability to synthesise one's heritage and receiving cultural streams and to identify as a member of both cultures) is best understood as a developmental construct that changes over time or as an individual-difference construct that is largely stable over time. We were also interested in the extent to which these trajectories predicted mental health and family functioning. Recent-immigrant 9th graders (N = 302) were assessed 6 times from 9th to 12th grade. Latent class growth analyses using the first 5 timepoints identified 2 trajectory classes—one with lower BII scores over time and another with higher BII scores over time. Higher heritage and US identity at baseline predicted membership in the higher BII class. At the 6th study timepoint, lower BII adolescents reported significantly poorer self-esteem, optimism, prosocial behaviour and family relationships compared with their higher BII counterparts. These findings are discussed in terms of further research on the over-time trajectory of biculturalism, and on the need to develop interventions to promote BII as a way of facilitating well-being and positive family functioning.

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