AbstractThis research study will examine the possible impact of collectivism and ethnic identity on perceived stress among Latinx college students. The participants for this study will be Latinx college students attending southwestern universities (n=200). Participants will answer an online questionnaire that will include the Auckland Individualism Collectivism Scale (Shulruf, Hattie, & Dixon, 2007), the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure- Revised (Phinney & Ong, 2007), the Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983), and items pertaining to demographics.
The data will be analyzed using independent sample t-tests and analysis of variance. This research study could have important implications for the mental health field because high stress levels or exposure are often associated with poor mental health (e.g. Toussaint, Shields, Dorn, & Slavich, 2016; Leppink, Odlaug, Lust, Christenson, & Grant, 2016).
This research could also help psychologists and researchers gain a deeper understanding of the significance and impact of collectivism and ethnic identity in Latinx culture.IntroductionStatement of the Problem There has been a body of research dedicated to ethnic identity and mental health as well as research focused on collectivism and coping strategies. However, there is a gap in the literature related to ethnic identity and collectivism and their impact on stress. It is important to address this gap in the literature because stress has direct ties to both mental health and coping strategies. If researchers found it important to investigate mental health and coping strategies, stress should also be important to research when looking at cultural factors like collectivism and/or ethnic identity.
Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to find if collectivism and/or ethnic identity have an effect on perceived stress among Latinx college students. This study will investigate if there is an effect caused by either of these variables and/or if there is an effect on stress caused by an interaction between both variables. The implications for this research is later described in this detailed proposal.Definition of Terms This study will be looking at three different variables. Two of these variables will be approached as independent variables.
The terms for these variables are collectivism and ethnic identity. The remaining variable will serve as the dependent variable. The term for this variable is perceived stress.
As it is important with all research, these terms must be operationally defined. This is important to give clarification as to what exactly the researcher is investigating in the study being conducted. The operational definition for each term in this proposed study is described below.Collectivism– “associated with a strong sense of duty to group, relatedness to others, seeking others’ advice, harmony, and working with the group” (Shulruf, Hattie, & Dixon, 2007)Ethnic identity– “one’s sense of belonging to an ethnic group” (Phinney & Ong, 2007).Perceived stress– “the degree to which situations in one’s life are appraised as stressful” (Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983).Literature Review Collectivism and Stress Research on collectivism and stress is slim. In fact, most research relevant to this topic is actually research conducted on the interplay between collectivism and coping strategies.
This is still relevant because coping methods can give insight into how people deal with their stress.In-group harmony is a component of collectivism. Research suggests that Latinxs prefer to not seek social support to help cope with stress because they want to preserve this harmony (Chang, 2015). Additionally, familism has been found to be associated with more daily engagement coping among Latinx youth (DeCarlo Santiago, Torres, Brewer, Fuller, & Lennon, 2016). Familism can be compared to collectivism because both concepts emphasize the importance of a group rather than an individual. The findings of both of these studies can be somewhat contradictory.It is evident that the literature on the potential impact of collectivism on perceived stress is virtually nonexistent.
Conducting research on this topic can help psychologists identify collectivism as a potential protective or risk factor for stress, depending on the findings. This research can also help psychologists understand more about collectivism and its significance and effects on the Latinx culture. Ethnic Identity, Mental Health, and Stress The body of research concerning ethnic identity is extensive. However, research findings regarding the relationship between ethnic identity and mental health issues among the Latinx population have been inconclusive. There is research supporting that a strong sense of ethnic identity can be associated with decreased depressive symptoms and externalizing behaviors (Umaña-Taylor, et. al, 2014). Moreover, some research shows a strong ethnic identity in Latinxs can be associated with better mental health (Ai, AIsenberg, Weiss, & Salazar, 2014). In contrast, some research has shown an achieved ethnic identity is associated with a higher sense of hopelessness and increased depressive symptoms (Romero & Piña-Watson, 2017).
Research also suggests ethnic identity is not a protective factor for mental health problems (Ai, Pappas, & Simonsen, 2015). However, there is also research that states there is no relationship between ethnic identity and depression (Arbona & Jimenez, 2014; Torres & Takint, 2015). There has also been research done on ethnic identity and stress. Ethnic identity has been found to have protective factors against discriminatory stress (Romero, Edwards, Fryberg, & Orduña, 2014). Discriminatory stress is a stressor that can certainly contribute to one’s perceived stress because it is often blatant and pervasive in society. Although there is much research done on mental health and ethnic identity, the research done on ethnic identity and stress is limited. Additionally, the research done on ethnic identity and stress has not been specified to Latinx college students.
Conducting research in this area could be important because of the mental health implications it may have, especially since college students are exposed to so many stressors and ethnic identity is many times strengthened or weakened throughout the college experience. It could be helpful to know if ethnic identity has an impact on their perceived stress. It makes sense to combine the research on the impact of both collectivism and ethnic identity on perceived stress because both collectivism and ethnic identity are related to culture. Not only are both concepts related to culture, but they are related to cultural attitudes, beliefs, and feelings. Collectivism is often associated with Latinx culture, and ethnic identity deals with how closely one identifies with their ethnic group, which is closely tied to one’s culture.
Research Questions/ Hypotheses After evaluating the current literature and identifying the gaps, the following research questions were formulated. Research QuestionsDoes collectivism have an impact on stress in Latinx college students?Does ethnic identity have an impact on stress in Latinx college students?Do collectivism and ethnic identity interact to impact stress in Latinx college students? HypothesesLatinx college students that score higher on collectivism will score lower on stress in comparison to the students that score low on collectivismEthnic identity influences stress in Latinx college students.Latinx college students who score high in both collectivism and ethnic identity will score low on stress.MethodsResearch DesignThe proposed research study is a quasi experimental research design. An online survey will be used to collect data. Participants may take this survey anywhere they have access to the internet and a computer or smartphone. This research study will be quantitative, as the survey uses numerical values for scoring.
The researcher will not be manipulating the independent variables other than by creating levels. Furthermore, the researcher will not assign the participants to these levels. Participant scores are assigned to a level based on the score obtained. Therefore, this is a quasi experimental experiment and not a true experiment.
ParticipantsFor this study a convenience sample of 200 undergraduate students (n=200) will be used. Participants will be self-identified Latinxs/Hispanics attending a southwestern university (i.e. Prairie View A&M University, University of Houston, etc.).
The researcher hopes to collect data from participants from different socioeconomic status, different residence areas (e.g. rural, urban), and different generations. This could be useful to the researcher for demographic comparisons of results and scores. Such comparisons can give insight into demographic differences, if any exist, regarding the proposed research.InstrumentsThere will be four different instruments used to collect data and measure for variables of interest in this study.
The Auckland Individualism Collectivism Scale (Shulruf, Hattie, & Dixon, 2007) will be used to measure for the first independent variable, collectivism. Secondly, the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure- Revised (Phinney and Ong, 2007) will be used to measure for the other independent variable, ethnic identity. Next, the Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983) will be used to measure participant’s stress, the dependent variable. Lastly, a demographic questionnaire will be formulated by the researcher to collect more in depth demographic information about the participants. All of the instruments considered for use are explicitly measuring the variables of interest in this proposed study, except for the demographic questionnaire which is more for descriptive purposes. Auckland Individualism Collectivism ScaleDeveloped by Shulruf, Hattie, and Dixon at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, the Auckland Individualism Collectivism Scale (AICS) measures individualism and collectivism (2007). Collectivism is “associated with a strong sense of duty to group, relatedness to others, seeking others’ advice, harmony, and working with the group” (Shulruf, Hattie, & Dixon, 2007). For this scale in particular, collectivism is associated with seeking advice and harmony.
This scale has 26 items, two subscales (collectivism and individualism) and five factors. Three of these factors fall under the individualism subscale (responsibility, competitiveness, uniqueness). There are 15 items related to individualism. There are four items in the uniqueness factor, four items for responsibility, and seven items for competitiveness.
The remaining two factors fall under the collectivism subscale (advice, harmony). There are 11 items that measure for collectivism. Seven of these items fall under the advice factor, and the remaining four items are for harmony. This scale uses a six-point Likert scale ranging from never or almost never (1) to always (6). The lowest possible score is 26 overall, 15 for individualism, and 11 for collectivism.
The highest possible scores are 156 overall, 90 for individualism, and 66 for collectivism. The overall score includes responses for each item no matter the subscale. The individualism score includes responses for the individualistic factors (responsibility, competitiveness, uniqueness). The collectivism score includes responses for the collectivism factors (advice, harmony). An example of an item that falls under the advice factor is I consider my friends’ opinion before taking important actions. An example of an item in the harmony factor is I sacrifice my self-interest for the benefit of my group. Because the proposed study is concerned with measuring for collectivism, only the responses for the collectivism items will be used for analysis although all the items in the scale will be included in the questionnaire used to collect data.
The reliability for the collectivistic factors is 0.77 for advice and 0.71 for harmony. Higher scores on items regarding collectivism indicate higher collectivistic attitudes and values. Lower scores on items regarding collectivism indicate lower collectivistic attitudes and values (Shulruf, Hattie, & Dixon, 2007).
Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure- RevisedPhinney and Ong revised the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure and, as a result, the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure- Revised (MEIM-R) was developed (2007). For the purpose of measuring for one of the independent variables, ethnic identity, the MEIM-R will be used. This instrument measures for ethnic identity. Ethnic identity is the sense of belonging to a particular ethnic group (Phinney & Ong, 2007).
The MEIM-R has two subscales (exploration and commitment). The subscale of exploration includes items such as I have spent time trying to find out more about my ethnic group, such as its history, tradition, and customs. In turn, the subscale of commitment includes items like I feel a strong attachment towards my ethnic group. The MEIM-R has strong psychometric data to support its reliability.
The MEIM-R has an overall reliability score of 0.81, and factor reliability of 0.76 for exploration and 0.78 for commitment. The MEIM-R contains six items that are responded to using a five-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). The mean of the items is used for scoring, whether the mean be of the whole scale or means of each subscale.
Because the mean is used as the score, the lowest possible score is a one and the highest possible score is a five. A higher mean, or score, indicates a stronger ethnic identity. A lower mean indicates a weak ethnic identity (Phinney & Ong, 2007). Perceived Stress ScaleDeveloped by Cohen, Kamarck, and Mermelstein, the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) will be used to measure stress (1983). The PSS essentially measures how stressful one considers their current or recent life situation and circumstances. The PSS is a ten item questionnaire that has items pertaining to the measurement of the stress, and frequency of, the respondent has experienced in the past month.
A Likert-type scale of five points is used with responses ranging from never (0) to very often (4). Reliability for the PSS is 0.85. To score the PSS, the positively stated items (4, 5, 7, & 8) must be reversed (e.g.
change a never response to very often, or from 0 to 4). A positively stated item would be In the last month, how often have you felt confident about your ability to handle your personal problems? A negatively stated item would then be In the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly? After the positively stated items are reversed, all item responses are taken and summed up. The lowest score someone can have on the PSS is a zero, while the highest possible score is a 40. A higher score suggests the respondent perceives their circumstances as particularly stressful. A lower score would then suggest that the participant does not perceive their current life situation to be very stressful (Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983). Demographic QuestionnaireThere is no specific developed scale that will be used to assess demographics. Demographics will be measured through questions the researcher will formulate and add to the online questionnaire. These items will ask the participant to specify their race/ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic status, residence area (urban vs rural), and whether they are first or second generation college students.
The responses to these items will be used for descriptive statistics when the results are reported and may be used to conduct more analyses using demographic data as variables.Procedures Recruiting ParticipantsTo carry out this study, the researcher will seek consent and agreement from professors and faculty, particularly faculty involved with Latinx student organizations, in southwestern universities (e.g.
Prairie View A University, University of Houston, etc.) to communicate to students the basics of the research study, ask for their participation, and provide the link to the online questionnaire. If such consent is obtained from a professor or faculty member, the researcher will then either visit classrooms to explain the study and give the link or provide the professor/faculty member with a detailed email including a description of the study, researcher contact information, and the link to the survey. This email should then be distributed by the professor/ faculty member to their undergraduate students.
When explaining the study to potential participants, the researcher will describe the purpose of the study and the potential implications for the research. To increase participation and make sure the desirable sample size is met, the researcher may ask professors to offer extra credit to their students if they were to participate in the research. However, this will be at the discretion of the professor. Collecting DataData will be collected online through a survey the researcher will compose on Qualtrics. Participants will be able to access this survey using the link the researcher will distribute. When the participant clicks on the link, they will be redirected to the Qualtrics survey for the experiment. The first page of the survey will serve as the informed consent. This first page/ consent form will briefly explain the purpose and nature of the study, possible risks of participating in the research, anonymity, withdrawal from the study, how long participation in the study will take, and where to communicate any concerns of the research.
Before the participant can answer any questions, they will indicate that they are giving their consent to participate in the research. After consenting, the survey will then proceed to display the survey items regarding demographics. Because this study is focused on Latinxs, the survey will automatically end for anyone who indicates a race/ethnicity that is not Latinx/Hispanic. If the participant is Latinx, they will be allowed to continue with the rest of the study. After the participant is finished with the demographic portion of the survey, they will continue with the individualism-collectivism items from the Auckland Individualism Collectivism Scale. Participants will answer all 26 items indicating responses ranging from never or almost never (1) to always (6). When this section is completed, the participant will continue with the survey and respond to the items regarding ethnic identity from the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Model- Revised (MEIM- R)..
The participant will respond to these six items by choosing responses on a Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). After responding to all ethnic identity items, the participant will respond to the final section of the survey. This section will include the ten items from the Perceived Stress Scale. Participants will indicate how frequently they felt the way described in each item in the last month by choosing a response in Likert scale ranging from never (0) to very often (4).
This will conclude the survey. As a precaution against analyzing invalid data, the researcher will include “attention check” items to ensure that the participant is paying attention and not answering randomly and carelessly. These items will be mixed in with the rest of the items. An example of such item would be I have been paying attention to every item and responding accordingly. Please respond always. mixed in with the individualism-collectivism items.
There will be about 4 attention check items throughout the survey. Failure to respond accordingly to these types of items will result in the erasure of that participant’s responses. This data would be invalid and unusable because the participant would be answering randomly and not paying attention to the content of the survey.Data AnalysisData will be checked for inconsistencies and correct responses to attention checks. Any incomplete or inconsistent data will be thrown out. This will be done so the data analysis reflects accurate responses from participants who actually read through the items and responded accordingly.
Additionally, because the study will focus on undergraduate college students, the researcher will also discard any data filled out by a participant who does not fit the appropriate age range, 18 to 23. The researcher will conduct several different inferential statistics tests to examine possible relationships between the variables of interest in the proposed research study. Collectivism and Stress To examine the possibility of a relationship between collectivism and stress, the researcher will conduct an independent samples t-test. This analysis will be utilized because the independent variable, collectivism, will only have two levels, high and low. The researcher will be examining if there is a difference in the mean stress score between people who score low and people who score high on collectivism. Since the highest possible collectivism score is a 66 and the lowest is 11, for the purpose of this analysis test, a score between 11 and 38 will be considered as low whereas a score between 39 and 66 will be considered high. This independent samples t-test will help test the directional hypothesis that predicts people with higher collectivism scores will score lower on stress. Ethnic Identity and StressTo examine if ethnic identity has an effect on stress, a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) will be used.
This analysis will be used because the independent variable, ethnic identity, in this case has 3 levels (low, moderate, high) and conducting several t-tests increases the chances of making a type 1 error. This will essentially be testing if there are any mean stress score differences between those who score low, moderate, and high. The lowest possible score is 1 and the highest possible score is a 5. For the purpose of this analysis anything between 1 and 2.3 will be considered low. Anything between 2.4 and 3.
6 will be moderate, and anything 3.7 and above will be considered high. Collectivism, Ethnic Identity, and StressTo examine if there is an interaction between collectivism and ethnic identity that causes an effect on stress, the researcher will conduct a two- way analysis of variance (ANOVA). This particular statistical analysis will be utilized because it helps to test if there is an interaction between two independent variables, in this case collectivism and ethnic identity scores. In essence, this statistical analysis will be useful to find if collectivism and ethnic identity interact to influence stress. In other words, it analyzes whether collectivism and ethnic identity together influence stress. Additionally, the two-way ANOVA also analyzes if there are independent variable differences in the dependent variable (e.g.
Are there collectivism differences in stress?). These findings should reinforce the findings of the previous statistical analyses. Finally, the two-way ANOVA will be used to test the prediction that participants with high scores in collectivism and ethnic identity will have the lowest stress scores.