American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 335-354

Biculturalism and Perceived Competence of Latino Immigrant Adolescents

  • Dina BirmanAffiliated withNational Institute of Mental Health

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The present study investigated acculturation to the Hispanic and American cultures and self-perceptions of competence among 123 Latino immigrant adolescents. The study tested a contextual model of biculturalism by examining whether different acculturation styles predicted perceived competence in life spheres with different cultural demands. Perceived competence was assessed using Harter's (1988) Self-Perceptions of Competence Profile for Adolescents for the life spheres of school, peers (both Latino and non-Latino), and global self-worth. In addition, an analogous scale to assess perceptions of competence in the family was constructed for that sphere. The study found some support for a contextual model of acculturation. Acculturation to American culture predicted positive self-perceptions of competence with American peers, while acculturation to Hispanic culture predicted positive self-perceptions of competence with Latino peers. Perceived family competence, however, was predicted by acculturation to American rather than Hispanic culture. Results with respect to biculturalism are tentative, with a trend relating biculturalism to positive self-perceptions of global self-worth. However, because many of the conditions stipulated by the model were not met, results with respect to biculturalism raise questions about current approaches to operationalizing the construct.

biculturalism acculturation self-competence adjustment immigrants Latinos Hispanics adolescents