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01-12-2014 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 12/2014

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 12/2014

Trajectories of Mexican American and Mainstream Cultural Values Among Mexican American Adolescents

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 12/2014
George P. Knight, Camille D. Basilio, Heining Cham, Nancy A. Gonzales, Yu Liu, Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor


Mexican Americans are one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States, yet we have limited knowledge regarding changes (i.e., developmental trajectories) in cultural orientation based upon their exposure to the Mexican American and mainstream cultures. We examined the parallel trajectories of Mexican American and mainstream cultural values in a sample of 749 Mexican American adolescents (49 % female) across assessments during the fifth grade (approximately 11 years of age), the seventh grade (approximately 13 years of age) and the tenth grade (approximately 16 years of age). We expected that these values would change over this developmental period and this longitudinal approach is more appropriate than the often used median split classification to identify distinct types of acculturation. We found four distinct acculturation trajectory groups: two trajectory groups that were increasing slightly with age in the endorsement of mainstream cultural values, one of which was relatively stable in Mexican American cultural values while the other was declining in their endorsement of these values; and two trajectory groups that were declining substantially with age in their endorsement of mainstream cultural values, one of which was also declining in Mexican American cultural values and the other which was stable in these values. These four trajectory groups differed in expected ways on a number of theoretically related cultural variables, but were not highly consistent with the median split classifications. The findings highlight the need to utilize longitudinal data to examine the developmental changes of Mexican American individual’s adaptation to the ethnic and mainstream culture in order to understand more fully the processes of acculturation and enculturation.

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