Hispanic immigrant youth engage in increased health risk behaviors, such as alcohol misuse, due in part to being confronted with acculturative stress in addition to facing major normative developmental challenges, such as identity consolidation (Berry et al. in Appl Psychol 55:303–332, 2006). Using a developmental psychopathology framework, in the present study we examined the effect of bicultural stress on alcohol misuse among immigrated Hispanic adolescents, indirectly through trajectories of identity formation and alcohol expectancies. Our sample consisted of 302 recently immigrated Hispanic adolescents (53 % male; Mage = 14.5 at baseline) who were interviewed every 6 months for 3 years. Bivariate growth curve modeling was used to examine the influence of initial early bicultural stress on later alcohol misuse via change in identity development (i.e., coherence and confusion) and subsequent growth in cognitive alcohol expectancies. Findings revealed that initial levels and growth of identity coherence were not significantly associated with either bicultural stress or tension reduction (TR) alcohol expectancies. Multiple mediation analyses indicated that the effect of bicultural stress at time 1 on the frequency of being drunk at time 6 was mediated via high initial levels of identity confusion, followed by growth in risky TR expectancies (T4–T6). A developmental approach to the genesis of alcohol use problems in immigrant youth is discussed.
- Alcohol use
- Bicultural stress
- Hispanic immigrant adolescents
- Identity development