The relationship among acculturation, self-esteem, and cigarette use in Mexican-American college students
Acculturation has persistently been found to be associated with tobacco use in Latinos, yet the literature disagrees on the direction and the measurement of this relationship. In order to better understand this, as well as provide further evidence for the use of bi-dimensional models of acculturation and the role of mediators, the current study combined these strengths from previous studies within one sample. We examined the degree to which Hispanic and American acculturation is associated with self-esteem and cigarette use in a sample of college aged Mexican-American students. Analyses showed that American acculturation was not associated with cigarette use in the past month, and self-esteem did not mediate this relationship. Hispanic acculturation was associated with reduced self-esteem, while self-esteem predicted a reduction in total cigarettes used for men but not for women. These results indicate that although Mexican-American men and women are effected by acculturation and their individual self-esteem, their health behaviors are affected in a different manner. It is critical to study both the psychological and the cultural variables that could contribute to smoking in order to properly interpret this relationship.