Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Psychology

First Advisor

Lourdes Suarez-Morales

Second Advisor

Ryan Black

Third Advisor

Barry Nierenberg


acculturative stress, anxiety, clinical psychology, depression, Hispanic youth, mindfulness, psychology


The population of Hispanic children is quickly growing in the United States. Unfortunately, this group has a significant risk of developing internalizing symptoms. The present study examined the complex relationships of cultural and cognitive factors with symptoms of anxiety and depression. Literature suggests that acculturative stress, or the difficulty experienced when adjusting to a new culture, is related to depression and anxiety in Hispanic youth. However, the mechanisms by which acculturative stress relates to anxiety and depression in this population are unknown. Thus, this study attempted to fill these gaps in the current literature by examining potential mediators and/or moderators. Specifically, negative automatic thoughts, which refer to biases and errors in information processing, were considered as a potential mediator of the relationship between acculturative stress and internalizing symptoms. Further, mindfulness, defined as present moment awareness and nonjudgmentalness, was considered as a potential mediator and moderator of the relationship between acculturative stress and internalizing symptoms. These relationships were tested in a sample of 274 middle school-aged Hispanic participants using self-report measures of internalizing symptoms, mindfulness, automatic thoughts, and acculturative stress. Results revealed that both mindfulness and automatic thoughts mediated the relationship of acculturative stress to anxiety and depression. In addition, mindfulness moderated the pathways from acculturative stress to automatic thoughts and from acculturative stress to anxiety. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.

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