Psychology, Department of


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A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychology, Under the Supervision of Professor Brian Wilcox. Lincoln, Nebraska: July 2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Maria I. Iturbide


In the U.S., 22% of children under the age of 18 are Latino and 52% of Latino children have at least one parent who is foreign-born (Fry & Passel, 2009). Latinos are likely to experience acculturative strains associated with a range of negative outcomes such as academic underachievement. A mixed method sequential explanatory design was used to examine the protective effects of cultural factors that may ameliorate the negative effects of acculturative strains on psychological and academic adjustment.

The quantitative phase of the study examined whether biculturalism and ethnic identity would reduce the negative influence of acculturation strains on adjustment and if age-related differences existed between models such that moderation effects would be greater for older adolescents than younger adolescents would. Moderation was found for biculturalism and ethnic identity, however only for three of the four types of adjustment. Comparisons of moderation effects by age found biculturalism was a moderator for the acculturation-depression model for older adolescents but not for younger adolescents.

In the qualitative phase of the study the adolescents who participated in the group interviews showed an understanding of what culture is, what it meant to them personally, and how it is directly or indirectly associated to their adjustment. From the themes that emerged it was inferred that family is essential to the understanding and prosperity of the Latino culture. Results have implications for theory, research and practice.

Advisor: Brian Wilcox