Date of Award

Summer 8-7-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Julie R. Ancis

Second Advisor

T. Chris Oshima

Third Advisor

Gregory L. Brack

Fourth Advisor

Catharina Chang

Abstract

SOCIAL SUPPORT AS A BUFFER OF ACCULTURATIVE STRESS: A STUDY OF MARITAL DISTRESS AMONG UNDOCUMENTED,

MEXICAN IMMIGRANT MEN

by

Douglas Costa de Andrade Ribeiro

Immigration trends in the United States have changed drastically in the last 20 years. Starting in the 1990’s the majority of immigrants have originated from Latin American, with most emigrating from Mexico. Men, some of whom are undocumented, have driven this new wave of immigrants. These new Mexican immigrants have bypassed traditional receiving sites across the U.S. Mexican border and settled in non-traditional sites in the southern U.S. (Kiang, Grzywacz, Marin, Arcury, and Quandt, 2010). They face increased difficulties adjusting to life in the U.S. due to separation from family and spouses, lack of established social support networks in the U.S., and marginalization. Difficulties adapting to a new culture combined with lack of social support have been associated with significant mental health problems in this population (Hiott, Grzywacz, Arcury, & Quandt, 2006). This study explored the relationship between acculturative stress and marital satisfaction, as well as the protective (buffering) role of social support in a sample of 125 undocumented, married, Mexican American men. The following instruments were used in this study: (a) The Social, Attitudinal, Familial, and Environmental Scale (Mena, Padilla, & Maldonado, 1987), (b) the Social Support Questionnaire (Acuna & Bruner, 1999; Sarason, Levine, Bashan, & Sarason, 1983), and (c) the Global Distress Scale of the Marital Satisfaction Inventory-Revised (Negy & Snyder, 1997). Results indicated that high levels of acculturative stress and low levels of social support were significantly associated with higher levels of marital distress. However, results did not support the hypothesis that social support acted as a buffer (moderator) against the effects of high acculturative stress on marital distress. These findings suggest that interventions with undocumented Mexican immigrant men should focus on assessing and treating acculturative stressors as well as aiding/advocating for the development and strengthening of social support networks.

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