Directional Effects in Cultural Identity: A Family Systems Approach for Immigrant Latinx Families

Alan Meca, Oswaldo Moreno, Cory Cobb, Elma I. Lorenzo-Blanco, Seth J. Schwartz, Miguel Ángel Cano, Byron L. Zamboanga, Melinda Gonzales-Backen, José Szapocznik, Jennifer B. Unger, Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, Daniel W. Soto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although there is a substantial body of work focusing on the processes underlying cultural identity in general, less is known regarding how these processes might operate within the context of Latinx families. Moreover, among the limited research that has included the adolescent and caregiver cultural identity, most of the research has primarily focused on how caregivers influence their adolescent’s cultural identity. In the present study, the directional pathways between recently immigrated adolescents’ and caregivers’ ethnic and U.S. identity belonging were examined using data from a longitudinal study of acculturation and identity development among recently arrived Latinx immigrant families. The sample consisted of 302 primary caregivers (Mage = 41.09, SD = 7.13 at baseline; 67.5% mothers) and their adolescents (Mage = 14.51, SD = 0.88 at baseline; 46.7% female). The results indicated that caregivers’ ethnic identity belonging significantly predicted adolescents’ ethnic identity belonging over time. At the same time, adolescents’ ethnic identity negatively predicted caregivers’ ethnic identity belonging over time, whereas adolescents’ U.S. identity belonging positively predicted caregivers’ later ethnic identity belonging. The findings indicate that immigrant caregivers may retain their native culture to direct and respond to their children’s changing cultural identifications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)965-977
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Cultural identity
  • Family systems
  • Latinx immigrants
  • Longitudinal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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