Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


Timothy A. Cavell

Committee Member

Ana J. Bridges

Second Committee Member

Alex R. Dopp


acculturation, internalizing problems, Latino youth, meta-analysis


Some studies have found acculturation to be a positive predictor of internalizing problems (i.e., anxiety and depression) in Latino youth (Gonzales et al., 2002), whereas other studies have revealed no relation or a negative relation between acculturation and internalizing problems (Smokowski, Buchanan, & Bacallao, 2009). Narrative reviews of this literature exist (Gonzales et al., 2002; Gonzales et al., 2009) but a quantitative synthesis of the literature has not been conducted. After a systematic literature search that identified 38 studies meeting inclusionary criteria, a meta-analysis was performed to estimate the size and direction of the relation between acculturation and internalizing problems. The measurement of acculturation, youth characteristics (age, gender, & country of origin), and environmental context (socioeconomic status, documentation status) were examined as possible moderators. Results revealed no significant relation between acculturation and internalizing problems. When measurement of acculturation was examined as a potential moderator, results revealed three patterns. There was no relation between acculturation and internalizing problems when studies used a proxy measure of acculturation. When studies used a discrepancy score to assess acculturation, a negative relation was found; when studies used a direct measure of acculturation, a positive relation was found. However, the effect sizes for these differences were small and susceptible to publication bias. Results also revealed studies with a greater percentage of Mexico-born participants showed stronger positive associations between acculturation and internalizing problems. Other youth characteristics (age, gender, US as the country of origin) were not significant moderators. Environmental context variables could not be analyzed because studies often did not provide this information. I discuss how the present findings fit within the larger body of research examining acculturative processes affecting the mental health of Latino youth and discuss the implications for future research and practice.