Influence of risk factors and cultural assets on Latino adolescents' trajectories of self-esteem and internalizing symptoms

Paul Richard Smokowski, Roderick A. Rose, Martica Bacallao

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    105 Scopus citations


    In this study, we examined longitudinal, person-centered trajectories of acculturation, internalizing symptoms, and self-esteem in 349 Latino adolescents. We compared acculturation measures (time in the US, culture-of-origin involvement, US cultural involvement, for both parents and adolescents); acculturation stressors (perceived discrimination, acculturation conflicts); and family dynamics (parent-adolescent conflict, familism). Results indicated that, over time, Latino adolescents' internalizing problems decreased and their self-esteem increased. However, we showed that increased length of time living in the US was significantly related to lower self-esteem among adolescents. Parent-adolescent conflict was a strong risk factor, which not only directly heightened internalizing symptoms and lowered self-esteem, but also mediated the effects of acculturation conflicts and perceived discrimination on these outcomes. Our findings revealed familism as a cultural asset associated with fewer internalizing symptoms and higher selfesteem. Internalizing symptoms were also minimized by the adolescent's involvement in the US culture whereas bicultural adolescents with high culture-of-origin involvement reported higher self-esteem. We discussed the limitations and implications of this study for future research and practice.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)133-155
    Number of pages23
    JournalChild Psychiatry and Human Development
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Apr 2010


    • Acculturation
    • Adolescents
    • Immigrants
    • Internalizing problems
    • Latino
    • Self-esteem

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Psychiatry and Mental health


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