Family Mediators of the Relation Between Acculturation and Adolescent Mental Health*


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    The authors acknowledge the contributions of many investigators who worked on this study: Gina Boyer, Christine Contreras, Larry Dumka, George Knight, Sonia Krainz, Shannon McQuiad, Marcia Michaels, Kathe Morton, Hazel Prelow, Leticia Reyes, Mark Roosa, Sonia Ruiz, Roxana Samaniego, Amalia Sirolli, and Carla Zubiria. The research was supported by NIMH grant 5-P30-MH39246-13 to fund a Preventive Intervention Research Center at Arizona State University.

**Nancy Gonzales is a Professor in the Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, P.O. Box 871104, Tempe, AZ 85287-1104 (

Julianna Deardorff is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Health Psychology Program, University of California—San Francisco.

Diana Formoso is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Prevention Research Training Program in Urban Children’s Mental Health and HIV Prevention, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Alicia Barr is an Associate Professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at South Plains College.

Manuel Barrera, Jr., is a Professor in the Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, P.O. Box 871104, Tempe, AZ 85287-1104.


Abstract: This study of 175 Mexican-origin families examined a mediational model linking the linguistic acculturation of mothers and adolescents with a wide array of family mediators and adolescent mental health outcomes. Family linguistic acculturation, a latent construct based on maternal and adolescent acculturation, was positively related to increased family and interparental conflict but was not related to maternal parenting practices. Family conflict mediated the link between acculturation and two adolescent outcomes, conduct problems and depressive symptoms. Family acculturation showed a complex pattern of positive, indirect (mediated) and negative, direct effects on adolescent depressive symptoms. Findings are discussed in relation to traditional cultural values of Mexican heritage families and prevailing theories about why more acculturated Mexican-origin youth are at increased risk for problem behaviors.