Category: Cultural Diversity / Vulnerable Populations
Latino adolescents report higher levels of depressive symptoms compared to youth from other ethnic backgrounds (Twenge & Nolen-Hoeksema, 2002; Kessler et al., 1994). Elevations of depressive symptoms in this population are likely the result of a collective exposure to multiple risk factors, such as discrimination, acculturative stress and poverty (Arrington & Wilson, 2000). Despite these risks, the endorsement of familial cultural values (e.g., strong attachment to family and reciprocated loyalty and obligation) typically serves as a protective factor and predicts positive outcomes in Latino youth. However, familial cultural value endorsement can also act as a potential risk factor for Latino youth within high-risk contexts (Zayas, Kaplan, Turner, Romano, & Gonzalez-Ramos, 2000). Although familial cultural values are critical in understanding risk and resilience processes in Latino youth, few studies have investigated the emotional mechanisms through which they promote positive or negative outcomes. Given that Latino youth tend to demonstrate strong familial ties, feelings of shame might be heightened when their behavior is inconsistent with their own or their family’s values or expectations, especially if they believe that their family will disapprove of their behavior resulting in rejection or dishonor to the family. For these youth, feelings of shame may then lead to depressive symptoms (Stein et al., 2014). The present study extends past research by exploring whether shame serves to moderate or mediate the relation between familial cultural values and depressive symptoms in an emerging immigrant community.
Participants were 175 Latino youths from grades 7th-8th who were recruited from a semi-rural school district in North Carolina. The majority was born in the U.S. (86.1%) with the remainder being of South American and Central American origin. Youth reported on familial cultural values using the Mexican American Cultural Values Scale (Knight et al., 2010), depressive symptoms usingThe Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (Angold & Costello, 1987), and feelings of shame using an adaptation of the Educational Socialization Scale (Choi, Bempechat, & Ginsburg, 1994).
Analyses demonstrated that shame (β = 0.052, n.s.) failed to mediate the relationship between familial cultural values and depressive symptoms. However, a significant interaction (β = -0.180, p < .05) between familial cultural values and shame was found, indicating a significant moderating effect. Specifically, familial cultural values play a key role in buffering against depressive symptoms under conditions of high levels of shame. This finding is consistent with literature that points to endorsement of familial cultural values as a protective factor and predictor of positive outcomes in Latino youth. It also highlights how familial cultural values operate in relation to self-referent emotions, such as shame, providing an important insight on when and how these values operate as risk or protective factors. Understanding the emotional underpinnings of these cultural values has implications for improving treatment engagement and informing theories and models of intervention programs for Latino youth.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina