Academic journal article Journal of College Counseling

Attachment, Acculturation, and Psychosomatic Complaints among Hispanic American University Students

Academic journal article Journal of College Counseling

Attachment, Acculturation, and Psychosomatic Complaints among Hispanic American University Students

Article excerpt

This study investigated adult attachment and acculturation frameworks of reported psychosomatic complaints related to perceived discrimination among a sample of Latino/Hispanic university students (N = 160). The model supported by the data suggests that attachment anxiety, acculturation toward the dominant cultural norms, and adherence to Latino/Hispanic cultural beliefs are important factors for perceived discrimination and psychosomatic complaints experienced by Latino/Hispanic students. Counseling implications and future research directions are discussed.

Keywords: attachment, acculturation, Latino/Hispanic American

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In the past 20 years, the Latino/Hispanic population has been identified as one of the fastest growing minority groups in the United States, reportedly accounting for approximately 16% of residents (United States Census Bureau, 2012). In 2011, Latino/Hispanic students between the ages of 18 and 24 became the largest minority group and accounted for approximately 16.5% of enrollments in all 2-year and 4-year colleges/universities in the United States (Fry, 2011). In response, college counselors and researchers have become increasingly aware of the importance of the factors associated with the psychological adjustment among Latino/Hispanic students.

Approximately two thirds of Latino/Hispanic American college students in the United States are either immigrants or first-generation U.S.-born Americans (Staklis & Horn, 2012). Therefore, Latino/Hispanic students often experience a great deal of acculturative stress and tend to experience higher levels of psychological distress than their non-Hispanic White student counterparts (Crockett et al., 2007; Lopez, 2005). Although some studies have examined the effect of acculturation and acculturative stress on Latino/Hispanic students' well-being and mental health (e.g., Crockett et al., 2007; Moradi & Risco, 2006), no studies could be located that investigated this topic from a multitheoretical perspective. Derived from two theoretical frameworks of acculturation model and adult attachment theory, we developed a mediation model that attempts to depict the possible relationships among selected psychosocial factors and a culturally relevant mental health indicator for Latino/ Hispanic American college students.

Acculturation and Adult Attachment

Acculturation refers to the changes in personal values, beliefs, behaviors, and ways of living that an immigrant or minority individual makes as a result of adapting to the mainstream cultural or behavioral norms (Berry, Kim, Minde, & Mok, 1987). Contemporary acculturation literature conceptualizes the acculturation construct using a bidimensional model in which immigrant individuals strive to develop a desired balance between preserving their home cultural identity and acquiring a new identity with the host culture (Berry et al., 1987; Lopez, 2005). Research findings consistently show that immigrants and university students from immigrant families who acculturate with difficulty may be more prone to psychosocial problems and mental health symptoms (Alamilla, Kim, & Lam, 2010; Crockett et al., 2007). For instance, research has connected the occurrence of somatic symptoms with the presence of psychosocial adjustment among immigrant populations (Alamilla et al., 2010). In addition, a study of 148 Mexican American college students found acculturative stress to be associated with greater psychological distress (Crockett et al., 2007). Given that a large percentage of Latino/Hispanic college students are either immigrants themselves or children of immigrants (Staklis & Horn, 2012), adequate knowledge related to the acculturation process is of particular importance for college counselors.

The acculturation process demands that individuals navigate a commitment to their beliefs and social networks related to their home cultures while simultaneously facing the choice to adopt new values and new communities of a host culture. …

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