Observed ethnic-racial socialization and early adolescent adjustment
This dissertation examined how cultural influences transmitted within the familial context impact the psychological adjustment of ethnic minority youth through the development of an observational measure of ethnic-racial socialization. Specifically, a behavioral observational paradigm and companion coding system were developed to examine ethnic-racial socialization processes among 140 American Indian, African American and European American adolescents and their families. Despite its interactional nature, to date there are no observational measures of ethnic-racial socialization, highlighting the important contributions of this study. This study was conducted in a series of phases. Phase I consisted of measurement development through use of qualitative data. Qualitative information from cultural informants was incorporated to develop two observational paradigms (observed family discussions on Family Culture and Coping with Discrimination) and an accompanying coding system. Phase II examined the underlying factor structure of this observational measure through confirmatory and exploratory factor analytic techniques. The Discrimination Paradigm derived the ethnic-racial socialization dimensions: (a) Proactive Preparation, (b) Racial Awareness, (c) Promotion of Mistrust, and (d) Other Group Orientation. The Family Culture paradigm derived: (a) Cultural Socialization, (b) Ethnic Heritage Exploration, (c) Family Centeredness, and (d) Spiritual Involvement. In Phase III correlational analyses supported convergent and ecological validity of the observed dimensions for American Indian and African American youth, but not European American youth. Phase IV examined the mediational effects of the observed measures, suggesting that among American Indian and African American youth, observed ethnic-racial socialization is central to the relationships between family context, discrimination, ethnic identity and youth adjustment. In Phase V, moderation effects indicated that only for American Indian youth, observed ethnic-racial socialization significantly reduced the impact of discrimination on youth adjustment. Last, Phase VI analyses revealed that observed dimensions uniquely contributed to adolescent problem behavior above and beyond the effect of discrimination and familial contextual factors among American Indian and African American youth. In sum, these findings support the reliability and validity of the observed ethnic-racial socialization measures, and suggest its promising capability to efficiently capture important, observable, transactional familial processes of ethnic-racial socialization that are integral to the development of cultural resilience.
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