Applying aspects of Problem Behavior Theory to Latino youth: Theoretical, methodological, and sociocultural considerations

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Byron L. Zamboanga
Gustavo Carlo


Problem Behavior Theory (PBT; Jessor, Donovan, & Costa 1991 ) is a common and influential perspective designed to further our understanding of problem behaviors among youth. However, few scholars have directly examined the validity of PBT to use with Latino youth. The present chapter critically examines the bas ic tenets of PBT and its relevance to understanding problem and conventional behavioral outcomes in Latino youth. A brief overview of PBT is presented, followed by an in-depth, critical discussion of its application to research on Latino youth. Several conceptual and methodological recommendations for future research are discussed including definitional issues and relevant social, cul tural, and demographic influences (e.g. , peer and family influences, socioeconomic status, ethnic identity, immigration and acculturation, and gender) on problem and conventional behaviors. In addition, the links between problem and conventional behaviors are critically investigated. Consideration of these various factors will further enhance the ecological and cultural validity of Latino youth development theories and research.

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