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Thomas Library

Honors Thesis Archive

Author Mallory F. Wigton
Title Acculturation and Mental Health of Immigrant Youth
Department Psychology
Advisor Stephanie Little
Year 2012
Honors University Honors
Full Text View Thesis (294 KB)
Abstract The present study aimed to contribute to the understanding of the effects of acculturation on immigrant youth mental health and positive social behaviors. Acculturation levels, along with family environment, amount of and feelings towards language brokering tasks, and parents' level of English proficiency, were investigated in order to describe the relationship between the individual and collective impact of each on mental health. Surveys were administered to 14 students of Mexican descent between the ages of 9-14. The majority of the participants were born in the United States (71%), while 21% were born in Mexico. Results from correlation analyses showed that fewer mental health problems for immigrant youth were associated with higher integration levels of acculturation while fewer prosocial behaviors endorsed by the youth were associated with a higher assimilation level of acculturation. The family environment was found to have both a positive and negative impact on youth mental health and prosocial behavior. More mental health difficulties for the youth were found to be associated with family cohesion and out of control anger, while youth prosocial behavior was found to be associated with more family harmony. Less family harmony and support along with more fighting in the family seemed to shape the child's feelings of language brokering negatively. A simple regression suggested that both mother's and father's English ability were good predictors of youth mental health and prosocial behavior respectively. Family harmony and fighting were also suggested as good predictors for youth prosocial behavior.

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