Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Social Welfare


Harriet Goodman

Committee Members

Luis Barrios

Ruffina Lee

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Scale construction, Internalization of Oppression, Latinx


This study created a valid scale of internalization of oppression experienced by Latinx students in New York City. This scale might be used by school counselors, college advisors, and clinicians who work to help Latinx clients. Internalization of oppression refers to the attitudes, beliefs and feelings that may develop among people who belong to populations placed in subordinate positions or devalued by the dominant populations in the societies in which they live. During the past hundred years, sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, historians, and other social thinkers have theorized about the problems that people experience when the groups and categories they belong to are devalued by the mainstream cultures in which they live. This theoretical work has been followed by empirical efforts to develop measures of internalization of oppression among various populations including African Americans, Asian Americans, and members of LGBTQ+ populations. These measures are related to several aspects of psychological distress, particularly depression, among these populations. The work to develop such scales that are applicable to Latinx populations has been limited.

METHODS A survey was administered to 387 students at two four-year colleges at the City University of New York who reported having at least one grandparent born in Latin America. Included in the survey were 30 items answered on a Likert scale measuring three aspects of internalization of oppression among Latinx populations. 1. The beliefs that Latinx people exhibit negative characteristics related to criminality, drug usage, intelligence, and work habits. 2. The beliefs that most Americans hold such opinions of Latinx people. 3. The negative feelings expressed by respondents toward being Latinx. The items that loaded highly in a principal components analysis were selected. When multiple items dealt with the same issue, they were eliminated. The scale comprised of the resulting items was analyzed for internal consistency and for construct validity.

RESULTS The final scale included 12 items. Four items related to respondents’ negative opinions about Latinx, four items related to respondents’ beliefs about most Americans negative opinions about Latinx, and four items related to respondents’ negative feelings about being Latinx. The analysis of internal consistency for these 12 items resulted in a high Cronbach’s alpha score, allowing the items to be combined into a scale for which a single total score could be calculated. Respondents who scored high on this scale were found to report high levels of depression and low levels of academic self-efficacy than those who scored low on the internalization of oppression scale.

CONCLUSION A scale exhibiting good psychometric properties was developed to measure internalization of oppression among Latinx college students. The scale was developed to be brief and easy for clinicians and college counselors to administer. It was found significantly related to measures of depression and of academic self-efficacy. Further work is needed to validate the scale among other populations such as high school students and adults living in the community. The final test of the scale will be if it helps clinicians and counselors to support their Latinx clients deal with their problems.