Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Elma Lorenzo-Blanco


Theory and research on emerging adulthood (ages 18 to 25) have increased in the past two decades. However, few studies have assessed how different cultural values and experiences influence the experiences of ethnic minority emerging adults. The first objective of the current study was to expand the field of emerging adulthood research by exploring how familism, the belief that family is central to a person’s life, related to their experience of emerging adulthood. Specifically, the study assessed how familism related to Arnett’s proposed experiences of emerging adulthood (identity exploration, self focused, other-focused, feeling in between, the age of instability/negativity, and age full of possibilities for experimentation). Additionally, studies have found that some of the Arnett’s proposed experiences of emerging adulthood were linked to substance use during this developmental period. Therefore, the second purpose of the study was to assess whether and how the experiences of emerging adulthood related to cigarette smoking, hookah use, and e-cigarette use. Participants (N=952) completed surveys for Project RED, a longitudinal study of substance use among Hispanics in Southern California. Hispanic emerging adults who had higher levels of familism experienced emerging adulthood less as a time of instability and negativity than participants who had lower levels of familism. Additionally, participants who perceived that emerging adulthood was a time full of possibilities for experimentation had lower rates of pastmonth smoking. Lastly, participants who experienced emerging adulthood as a time to focus on themselves reported more past-month smoking. Results were discussed regarding current theories.