Author ORCID Identifier

0000-0002-6975-0665

Date of Award

12-13-2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Gabriel P. Kuperminc

Second Advisor

Robert D. Latzman

Third Advisor

Christopher Henrich

Fourth Advisor

Josefina Bañales

Abstract

Civic action describes participation in political and prosocial activities aimed at benefiting one’s communities. A growing literature rooted in critical consciousness (CC) theory suggests that engaging in critical action, or action that challenges societal inequities, is particularly important for empowering youth of color. Although valuable, this literature has paid little attention to the ways immigrant optimism may differentially influence the civic participation of youth of color who also have an immigrant background. Also, this literature has failed to consider the range of civic actions these youth engage in. The purpose of this study was to (1) operationalize immigrant optimism and examine its content and discriminant validity, and (2) test associations between immigrant optimism, CC elements, and indices of civic action in a sample of young immigrants of color. In phase one, this researcher iteratively generated and piloted items expected to capture immigrant optimism. This process included multiple rounds of feedback both from members of the target population and from experts on immigration phenomena. Most items were consistently positively ranked by experts and demonstrated content validity.

In phase two, participants were recruited to complete self-report measures of CC, immigrant optimism, and action indices. Participants (N = 172; 73% female) were first- (22%) and second-generation (77%) young immigrants of color (Mage = 20). Results from a two-factor CFA indicated that immigrant optimism and critical reflection items significantly and positively loaded onto their corresponding factor, evincing discriminant validity. Next, using parcels, a measurement model was specified with correlations among all variables. Model fit was adequate, X2 (120) = 178.74, CFI = .962, RMSEA = .053. Finally, an SEM model fit the data well, X2 (126) = 191.19, CFI = .956, RMSEA = .055. Although immigrant optimism was not significantly associated with any study variable, findings point to important considerations regarding dimensionality as well as relevant group-level differences. Findings also highlight the influence of individual differences on civic participation, particularly as they relate to internal sociopolitical efficacy, which emerged as the most reliable predictor of action. Results shed light on the importance of considering multiple levels of influence on action in this population.

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