Our knowledge of how acculturative processes affect families remains quite limited. This article tests whether acculturative family distancing (AFD), a more proximal and problem-oriented measure of the acculturation gap, influences the mental health status of Asian American and Latino college students. AFD occurs along two dimensions: communication difficulties and cultural value incongruence.
Data were collected from 186 Asian American (n=107) and Latino (n=79) undergraduates, who provided self-reports on psychological problems, depressive symptoms, and family conflict. A new self-report measure of AFD evidencing good psychometric properties was used to test hypothesized relations among these variables in structural equation models (SEM).
For both Asian American and Latinos, results indicated that higher levels of AFD were associated with higher psychological distress and greater risk for clinical depression, and that family conflict mediated this relation.
AFD processes were associated with the mental health of students and the functioning of their families. These findings highlight potential foci to address in prevention and intervention programs, such as improving communication and teaching families how to negotiate cultural value differences.