College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-22-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Antonio Polo, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Yan Li, Ph.D.


Among ethnic minority youth, Latino adolescents disproportionately report higher levels of depression and anxiety than their peers of other ethnic backgrounds. The purpose of the present study is to better understand the familial and sociocultural factors that impact mental health among Latino adolescents. Specifically, the present study examines how youth cultural values (i.e., family obligation and affiliative obedience) moderate the relation between parenting dimensions (i.e., parental acceptance and parental psychological control) and youth internalizing symptoms (i.e., depression and anxiety) cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Latino adolescents (n = 115) from a Chicago public school categorized as "lowincome" participated in a survey and two follow-up interviews. Results indicated that the cultural value of family obligation moderated the relation between parenting dimensions and youth internalizing symptoms. At high levels of parental acceptance, high youth family obligation enhanced the relation between parental acceptance and low internalizing symptoms. High family obligation did not buffer the negative effects of high levels of parental psychological control and youth internalizing symptoms. Results indicate that cultural values cannot be assumed to be protective factors in all situations, emphasizing the need for specificity when understanding the sociocultural and familial factors among Latino adolescents to address mental health disparities.