Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychological Sciences

Committee Chair

David Rollock

Committee Member 1

Sean P. Lane

Committee Member 2

Donald R. Lynam

Committee Member 3

Jean M. Beaman


Perceived discrimination and acculturation are key minority status and cultural variables that impact Hispanic mental health. Despite discrimination being a chronic stressor and acculturation being a developmental process, the impact of these experiences have been primarily investigated cross-sectionally. This paper uses longitudinal analyses to explore how perceived discrimination and acculturation impact growth internalizing and externalizing symptoms over time, adding nuance to previous literature. Using the Pathways to Desistance Mexican American sample (N =332), this paper utilized latent growth curve analyses to evaluate acculturative theories on mental health and the immediate and longitudinal impact of discrimination on a broad spectrum of mental health outcomes. Results indicate that higher initial status in Mexican orientation predicted less growth in internalizing symptoms, and growth in Mexican orientation predicted less growth in alcohol use, substance use, and criminal offending over time. Interestingly, growth in American cultural orientation did not predict growth in internalizing or externalizing symptoms. Baseline perceived police discrimination cross-sectionally was associated with greater internalizing, substance use, and criminal offending, but did not predict growth in mental health challenges. Moderation analyses also indicated that higher initial status in Mexican orientation and American orientation was related to less growth in internalizing symptoms but unrelated to externalizing symptoms. Neither Mexican nor American orientation moderated the impact of discrimination on internalizing or externalizing symptoms. Altogether these results provide no support for the position of Americanization being key to better mental health outcomes, and supports the acculturative theories that point to integrated cultural identities and strong Hispanic cultural identity being protective against mental health.