Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Acculturative Stress in Latin-American Immigrants: An Assessment Proposal

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Acculturative Stress in Latin-American Immigrants: An Assessment Proposal

Article excerpt

The aim of this paper was to develop an instrument to assess levels of stress experienced by Latin- American immigrants in their acculturative process in Spain. A sample of 692 immigrants from Latin America, aged 20 to 63 years, took part on this study (54.9% males and 45.1% females). A 24-item questionnaire with high reliability (.92) was elaborated. Six factors related to acculturative stress were found: 1) discrimination and rejection; 2) differences with the out-group (native Spaniards); 3) citizenship problems and legality; 4) problems concerning social relationships with other immigrants; 5) nostalgia and longing; and 6) family break-up. Our findings show that participants have a high level of stress related to nostalgia and longing, family break-up, and the perception of discrimination and rejection by natives. The usefulness of the instrument and its applications and restrictions are discussed.

Keywords: acculturative stress, latin-american immigrants, instrumental study.

El objetivo de este trabajo era desarrollar un instrumento de evaluación de los niveles de estrés vivenciados por inmigrantes hispanoamericanos durante el proceso de aculturación en España. En este estudio participaron un total de 692 inmigrantes de América Latina (54.9% hombres y 45.1% mujeres) de entre 20 y 63 años de edad. Mediante el procedimiento aplicado, se construyó un instrumento de 24 ítems con una elevada consistencia interna (.92) y con seis factores que hacen referencia a diversas fuentes de estrés de aculturación: 1) discriminación y el rechazo percibido de los autóctonos por el hecho de ser inmigrante; 2) diferencias con el exogrupo (autóctonos españoles); 3) problemas de ciudadanía y legalidad; 4) problemas de relaciones sociales con otros inmigrantes; 5) la añoranza y nostalgia respecto a personas del país de origen; y 6) la ruptura de la familia. Los datos obtenidos indican que los participantes presentan un elevado estrés relacionado con la añoranza, la ruptura de la familia y la percepción de discriminación y rechazo por parte de los autóctonos. Se discute la utilidad del instrumento, sus aplicaciones y limitaciones.

Palabras clave: estrés de aculturación, inmigrantes hispanoamericanos, estudio instrumental.

Throughout the decade of the 1990s, the number of immigrants greatly increased in Spain (Almoguera, López, Miranda, & Valle, 2007; Bodega, Cebrián, & Martín, 2006; Díez, 2005; Moya & Puertas, 2008; Urdiales & Ferrer, 2005). Most of them came from Africa and Eastern Europe and, especially Latin America, which has become the most significant continental source in recent years. According to the Observatorio Permanente de la Inmigración (Permanent Observatory of Immigration), which depends on the Ministerio de Trabajo e Inmigración (2008, Ministry of Work and Immigration), the number of foreigners with a residence card or permit in Spain in March, 2008, was 4.192.835, and 30.28% of them were of Latin-American origin (50.11%, if only the extra community foreigners are taken into account). Considering the data from the Census of the Region of Murcia, among the extra community foreigners, the Latin-Americans also comprise the most numerous group in Murcia: 50.56%.

The migratory process is an experience with many potential sources of stress. The importance of certain stressors has been underscored: communication problems, social and cultural differences, economic problems, unemployment or poorly paid jobs, social margination, perception of discrimination, and, especially, the loss of social and family support (Hovey, 1999; Vargas-Willis & Cervantes, 1987). Some cognitive factors have been proposed to modulate the impact of these sources of stress: the perception of freedom of choice (forced vs. non-forced migration) and the expectations about the conditions of adaptation and one's capacity to deal with the process as a whole (Zarza & Sobrino, 2007). Although language difficulties have usually been emphasized as an important source of stress for Latin- Americans in the USA (Arcia, Skinner, Bailey, & Correa, 2001; Cervantes, Padilla, & Salgado de Snyder, 1991; Cruz, Marshall, Bowling, & Villaveces, 2008; Rodríguez, Myers, Bingham, Flores, & Garcia-Hernandez, 2002), in the case of Spain, its potential as a stressor is much weaker. …

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