The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Moderated Linguistic Acculturation On Economic and Occupational Stress Among People of Mexican Descent

Friday, January 17, 2014
HBG Convention Center, Bridge Hall Street Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Adrian Archuleta, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Hispanics represent a rapidly growing population that are demographically transforming American’s workforce. Acculturation plays an important role in Hispanics’ work experiences. Differences in acculturation and attitudes concerning acculturation may affect the quality of intercultural interaction and lead to discrimination that impedes economic, academic, and social success. Acculturation also plays a role in shaping an individual’s social relationships by creating gaps that alter social networks containing resources that may mitigate the stress experienced. The social capital gained from personal networks has demonstrated its benefit for self-rated health beyond that accounted for by social support. However, it is unclear which social groups meaningfully relate to lower economic/occupational stress. The purpose of this study is to examine whether variations in linguistic and social acculturation create conditional relationships under which acculturation relates to economic and occupational stress. In addition, the study examines whether various social groups uniquely relate to lower levels of economic and occupational stress.


A convenience sample of individuals self-identifying as Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano/ca, or Hispanic/Latino/a of Mexican descent were recruited from a community college and a University in the Southwestern United States. Individuals were recruited across various class subjects. Approximately 644 individuals were approached, and N=314 usable surveys were returned resulting in a response rate of 48%.


The following instruments were utilized to measure the study variables: The Short Acculturation Scale for Hispanics (media, social relationships, and language subscales), the Economic and Occupational Stress subscale from the Hispanic Stress Inventory, and a modified version of the Personal Social Capital Scale.


The final model accounted for 20.6% of the variance in economic stress. Media (β=.40, p<.01), social (β=.-18, p<.05), and linguistic (β=-.19, p<.05) acculturation were all statistically significant in the final step of the model. The addition of the interaction term between linguistic and social acculturation resulted in a statistically significant change in R-squared (R2 =.013). The social capital gained from friends (β=-.24, p<.01) and community members (β=.22, p<.01) were the only statistically significant social capital variables. The Johnson-Neyman technique revealed that social acculturation values ranging from 1 to 2.80 produced statistically significant slope coefficients (ranging from -4.93 to -1.86) with lower social acculturation values and unit increases in linguistic acculturation producing larger negative effects on economic/occupational stress.


The findings from this study recognize the stressful intersection between various areas (e.g., language) affected by acculturation as well as protective and risk factors for stress that are associated with particular groups. Individuals with the lowest social and linguistic acculturation report the highest levels of economic and occupation stress with a reduction in stress observed with increases in social and linguistic acculturation. In addition, various group memberships through which social capital is gained also demonstrated competing effects with economic/occupational stress indicating that social network participation may not always serve as a protective factor.  It is important that social work practitioners evaluate the conditional circumstances under which acculturation relates to stress as well as the groups through which social capital gained makes the most meaningful impact on specific life events.