The development and testing of a multivariate model of differentiation of self among Hispanics

Michelle Marie Hospital, Florida International University


Individuals of Hispanic origin are the nation's largest minority (13.4%). Therefore, there is a need for models and methods that are culturally appropriate for mental health research with this burgeoning population. This is an especially salient issue when applying family systems theories to Hispanics, who are heavily influenced by family bonds in a way that appears to be different from the more individualistic non-Hispanic White culture. Bowen asserted that his family systems' concept of differentiation of self, which values both individuality and connectedness, could be universally applied. However, there is a paucity of research systematically assessing the applicability of the differentiation of self construct in ethnic minority populations. This dissertation tested a multivariate model of differentiation of self with a Hispanic sample. The manner in which the construct of differentiation of self was being assessed and how accurately it represented this particular ethnic minority group's functioning was examined. Additionally, the proposed model included key contextual variables (e.g., anxiety, relationship satisfaction, attachment and acculturation related variables) which have been shown to be related to the differentiation process. The results from structural equation modeling (SEM) analyses confirmed and extended previous research, and helped to illuminate the complex relationships between key factors that need to be considered in order to better understand individuals with this cultural background. Overall results indicated that the manner in which Hispanic individuals negotiate the boundaries of interconnectedness with a sense of individual expression appears to be different from their non-Hispanic White counterparts in some important ways. These findings illustrate the need for research on Hispanic individuals that provides a more culturally sensitive framework.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Hispanic Americans

Recommended Citation

Hospital, Michelle Marie, "The development and testing of a multivariate model of differentiation of self among Hispanics" (2006). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3249706.