A recent study by Missouri University professor, Gustavo Carlo, found that parents and peers influence strongly the behaviors and moral development of Mexican American college students. As a result of these findings, Carlo, a Millsap Professor of Diversity and Multicultural Studies in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at MU, believes that universities need to encourage family and social involvement in students’ lives in order to attain more successful students.
The study, entitled, “Empathy as a mediator of the relations between parent and peer attachment and prosocial and physically aggressive behaviors in Mexican American college students,” surveyed 148 Mexican American college students from California and Texas. Students were asked about parental and peer attachment as well as empathy, prosocial or positive behaviors and physical aggression. The study demonstrated a direct correlation between strong relationships with parents and peers and greater empathy with less physical aggression.
According to the statistics the number of Latino students enrolled at the university level is increasing however full time Latino students still trail behind other ethnic groups. Latino students also have a high dropout rate. According to Carlo, in order to improve these statistics, universities should begin connecting with parents in order to introduce them to the college lifestyle as well as the opportunities a college education will provide in the future. “We have to be cognizant of the fact that some of them may have never attended a college or university, and so it may be somewhat of an intimidating environment for them to actually come to campus,” Professor Carlo stated.
The study, published online by the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships this past December will be available this month in the journal’s print edition.