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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Ethnic Socialization, Discrimination, and the Academic Adjustment of Adolescents


Ethnic socialization has significant associations with African American children’s academic motivation and psychological well-being. However, little is known about the role of ethnic socialization for families with Latin American and Asian backgrounds. In the present study, we examined if there were ethnic and generation differences among 524 11th grade adolescents from Mexican, Chinese, and European backgrounds in the frequency and the types of ethnic socialization messages that they received from their parents. Participants also responded to questions about discrimination experiences and academic motivation. Their grade point averages (GPAs) were collected from school records. Results indicated that adolescents from both Mexican and Chinese backgrounds reported more cultural socialization and preparation for bias messages than their peers from European backgrounds. Chinese adolescents reported more promotion of mistrust messages than their peers with European backgrounds. Moreover, promotion of mistrust messages negatively predicted academic achievement, whereas positive cultural socialization messages accounted for the higher levels of motivation among adolescents from Chinese and Mexican backgrounds as compared to their equally-achieving peers from European backgrounds. Ethnic socialization did not moderate the negative association between discrimination and achievement.

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