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Bicultural Competence Development Among U.S. Mexican-Origin Adolescents

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Biculturalism embodies the degree to which individuals adapt to living within two cultural systems and develop the ability to live effectively across those two cultures. It represents, therefore, a normative developmental task among members of immigrant and ethnic-racial minority groups,

Biculturalism embodies the degree to which individuals adapt to living within two cultural systems and develop the ability to live effectively across those two cultures. It represents, therefore, a normative developmental task among members of immigrant and ethnic-racial minority groups, and has important implications for psychosocial adjustment. Despite a strong theoretical focus on contextual influences in biculturalism scholarship, the ways in which proximal contexts shape its development are understudied. In my dissertation, I examine the mechanisms via which the family context might influence the development of bicultural competence among a socio-economically diverse sample of 749 U.S. Mexican-origin youths (30% Mexico-born) followed for 7 years (Mage = 10.44 to 17.38 years; Wave 1 to 4).

In study 1, I investigated how parents’ endorsements of values associated with both mainstream and heritage cultures relate to adolescents’ bicultural competence. Longitudinal growth model analyses revealed that parents’ endorsements of mainstream and heritage values simultaneously work to influence adolescents’ bicultural competence. By examining the effect of multiple and often competing familial contextual influences on adolescent bicultural competence development, this work provides insights on intergenerational cultural transmission and advances scholarship on the culturally bounded nature of human development.

In study 2, I offer a substantial extension to decades of family stress model research focused on how family environmental stressors may compromise parenting behaviors and youth development by testing a culturally informed family stress model. My model (a) incorporates family cultural and ecological stressors, (b) focuses on culturally salient parenting practices aimed to teach youth about the heritage culture (i.e., ethnic socialization), and (c) examines bicultural competence as a developmental outcome. Findings suggest that parents’ high exposure to ecological stressors do not compromise parental ethnic socialization or adolescent bicultural competence development. On the other hand, mothers’ exposures to enculturative stressors can disrupt maternal ethnic socialization, and in turn, undermine adolescents’ bicultural competence. By examining the influence of multiple family environmental stressors on culturally salient parenting practices, and their implications for adolescent bicultural competence development, this work provides insights on ethnic-racial minority and immigrant families’ adapting cultures and advances scholarship on the family stress model.

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2019

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Mexican-Origin Adolescents in Latino Neighborhoods: A Prospective and Mixed Methods Approach

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Neighborhoods are important aspects of the adolescent and family ecology. Cultural developmental perspectives posit that neighborhood environments contain both promoting and inhibiting characteristics for ethnic-racial minoritized populations (García Coll et al., 1996). Historically, neighborhood researchers have approached Latino neighborhoods from

Neighborhoods are important aspects of the adolescent and family ecology. Cultural developmental perspectives posit that neighborhood environments contain both promoting and inhibiting characteristics for ethnic-racial minoritized populations (García Coll et al., 1996). Historically, neighborhood researchers have approached Latino neighborhoods from a deficit perspective. Thus, there is limited research about how Latino neighborhoods support Latino youth development and family processes. In my dissertation, I examine both the promoting and inhibiting aspects of Latino identified neighborhoods for adolescent development.

In study 1, I prospectively examined a model in which Mexican-origin parents’ perceptions of social and cultural resources in neighborhoods may support parents to engage in higher levels of cultural socialization and, in turn, promote adolescents’ ethnic-racial identity (ERI). Findings suggest neighborhood social and cultural cohesion in late childhood promoted middle adolescents’ ERI affirmation via intermediate increases in maternal cultural socialization. Similar patterns were observed for ERI resolution, but only for adolescents whose mothers were born in the United States. Findings have critical implications for how neighborhoods support parents’ cultural socialization practices and adolescents’ ERI.

In study 2, I used a convergent mixed methods research design to compare and contrast researchers’ neighborhood assessments collected using systematic social observations (e.g., physical disorder, sociocultural symbols) with adolescents’ qualitative neighborhood assessments collected by semi-structured interviews with Mexican-origin adolescents. Using quantitative methods, I found that researchers observed varying degrees of physical disorder, physical decay, street safety, and sociocultural symbols across adolescents’ neighborhood environments. Using qualitative methods, I found that adolescents observed these same neighborhood features about half the time, but also that they often layered additional meaning on top of distinct neighborhood features. Using mixed methods I found that, in the context of high spatial concordance, there was a high degree of overlap between researchers and adolescents in terms of agreement on the presence of physical disorder, physical decay, street safety, and sociocultural symbols. Lastly, adolescents often expanded upon these neighborhood environmental features, especially with references to positive and negative affect and resources. Overall, findings from study 2 underscore the importance using mixed methods to address the shared and unique aspects of researchers’ objectivity and adolescents’ phenomenology.

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2020