When is bicultural stress associated with loss of hope and depressive symptoms? Variation by ethnic identity status among Mexican Descent Youth

Andrea J Romero, Brandy Piña-Watson, Russell B. Toomey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Depressive symptoms among Latina/o youth are associated with higher bicultural stress, such as outgroup discrimination, ingroup marginalization, speaking only one language in dual language contexts, and family cultural conflict. However, the relation between bicultural stress and hopelessness or depressive symptoms may vary among Mexican descent adolescents. In particular, ethnic identity status, based on ethnic exploration and ethnic resolution, may protect or increase vulnerability to bicultural stressors. Participants included 522 Mexican descent adolescents (53.1% female; age range 14 to 18 years: M = 16.22 years, SD = 1.09 years) who completed a self-report survey at a school on the U.S./Mexico border with 97% Latina/o concentration. Three ethnic identity statuses (diffused, foreclosed, and achieved) were identified in this sample using cluster analysis based on ethnic identity exploration and resolution. A multiple group path analysis found that more hopelessness was significantly associated with more bicultural stress among diffused and achieved youth. Depressive symptoms were associated with bicultural stress only for achieved youth. Diffused ethnic identity youth reported the highest rates of hopelessness, and they reported more hopelessness when they reported higher rates of bicultural stress. Contrary to hypotheses, achieved ethnic identity status youth reported a significant association between bicultural stress and both hopelessness and depressive symptoms. Our results suggest that achieved ethnic identity may not necessarily be an unmitigated protective factor, particularly when considering intragroup marginalization in areas of high Latina/o concentration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-63
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Latina/o Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2018



  • bicultural stress
  • depressive symptoms
  • ethnic identity
  • hopelessness
  • Latina/o adolescents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology

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