Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Daniel A. Santisteban

Second Committee Member

Cengiz Zopluoglu

Third Committee Member

Maite P. Mena

Fourth Committee Member

Brian E. McCabe


Externalizing problems often develop during adolescence and cause harm to the individuals with these problems and to others in society. Hispanic/Latinx adolescents develop externalizing problems at relatively higher rates and in ways that involve systemic influences. The present study aimed to enhance clarity in this area by examining externalizing problems as a dimension of psychopathology and applying constructs of Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theory (2005). This was attempted by examining: a) externalizing problems as a continuous spectrum, b1) relations the problems have with proximal processes of adolescent-caregiver relations, b2) and exploring differences across contexts specified as three immigration-based groups (1st generation immigrant, 2nd generation, or 3rd generation and beyond). Data was aggregated from multiple NIH-funded studies with Hispanic/Latinx adolescent-caregiver dyads (n = 529). Structural equation models examined externalizing problems as a latent variable, its association with adolescent-caregiver variables, and multigroup strategies were used to explore differences involving immigration history. Results supported a model of externalizing psychopathology (with oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). Adolescent-caregiver variables, including parenting practices and attachment, showed negative associations with externalizing problems. There was evidence that 2nd generation immigrant adolescents may have higher rates of externalizing problems relative to other adolescents. This study has advanced research of externalizing problems within Hispanic/Latinx adolescents by conceptualizing with theories of both psychopathology and Bronfenbrenner. The healthy development and well-being of Hispanic/Latinx individuals has great importance and it is imperative to recognize the individual, developmental processes, and contexts in which they exist.


externalizing problems; Bronfenbrenner; Hispanic/Latinx; adolescents; bioecological theory