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Characteristics of Hispanic Families. Developed by Dr. Laurie R. Weaver Dr. Judith A. M á rquez University of Houston-Clear Lake. Objectives. At the end of this module, the participant will be able to Distinguish between race, ethnicity and culture

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Characteristics of hispanic families

Characteristics ofHispanic Families

Developed by

Dr. Laurie R. Weaver

Dr. Judith A. Márquez

University of Houston-Clear Lake


  • At the end of this module, the participant will be able to

    • Distinguish between race, ethnicity and culture

    • Describe characteristics of Hispanic culture that may affect students in the school setting

To think about
To Think About

  • If you were asked to identify your race, what would you say? Your ethnicity?

  • If you were asked to describe your culture, what would you say?

Hispanization of the united states
Hispanization of the United States

  • Read this information from the US Census

    • As of March 2002:

      • There were 37.4 million Hispanics in the US

      • Hispanics make up 13.3% of the total US population

  • Examine the next slide. What information does it provide about the Hispanic population in the US?

    • (Ramirez, R., & de la Cruz, G. P. (2003, June). The Hispanic population in the United States: March 2002. US Census Bureau.

Hispanization of the united states1
Hispanization of the United States

Hispanization of the united states2
Hispanization of the United States

  • You should have noted that

    • on the Census survey, people of Hispanic origin reported their origin as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American, or some other Latino origin

    • people of Mexican origin comprise 66.9% of the US Hispanic population

    • 30% of the US Hispanic population, however, is of other than Mexican origin

Hispanization of the united states3
Hispanization of the United States

  • What impact does the following information have for schools? Discuss this with a partner.

    • The Hispanic population grew four times the rate of the US population overall during a two year period (2001-2003).

    • From April 2002 to July 2002, the Hispanic population grew 10%.

What does hispanic mean
What Does “Hispanic” Mean?

  • To understand what it means to be Hispanic, it is important to understand the difference between race and ethnicity. Working with a partner, define race and ethnicity, then read the definitions on the following slide.

  • How similar are your definitions to the ones on the following slide?

Race ethnicity

  • Race

    • is a socially determined category.

    • is related to, but not bound by, physical characteristics (Jacobson, 1998).

    • Therefore, two individuals with physical characteristics that are almost identical could be categorized as different races in different societies.

Race ethnicity1

  • Example: A middle class person who looks Caucasian but acknowledges African ancestry would be classified Black in the mainland US.

  • However, in Puerto Rico this person would be considered White. In Puerto Rico in determining race, a greater emphasis is placed on social economic standing (Banks, 2003).


  • What are the racial categories in the US, according to the US government?

  • Go to the following link and examine the five racial categories established by the US Office of Management and Budget.


  • Click on Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin, (p. 2).

Race and ethnicity
Race and Ethnicity

  • Does the US government consider Hispanic to be a race?

  • If Hispanic isn’t a race, what is it?

    • Hispanic is an ethnicity.

  • Ethnicity relates to

    • Sharing a common national origin/heritage

    • May share a common language

Race and ethnicity1
Race and Ethnicity


A person from Mexico with indigenous ancestors who moves to the US would be considered Hispanic, as would a person from Mexico with Spanish (from Spain) ancestors.

Two different races are represented (Native American and White), but one ethnicity (Hispanic).

Race and ethnicity2
Race and Ethnicity

  • Thus, an Hispanic (ethnic background) person could be White, Black/African American, Asian, Pacific Islander and/or Native American (race).

Hispanic and latino
Hispanic and Latino

  • So what does Latino mean? Discuss with a partner what you think the difference is between Hispanic and Latino.

  • People whose heritage is from Mexico, Central or South America use various terms to refer to themselves. Go to the following links to read about some of these terms:



Hispanic and latino1
Hispanic and Latino

  • Assess what you have learned about these terms.

  • Tell your partner one fact you have learned so far.


  • As you work through the rest of this module, remember to avoid stereotyping.

  • This module presents information about some general characteristics of the Hispanic culture.

  • However, many factors will influence a person’s culture.

  • You must be careful not to assume that just because a person is Hispanic, that he will exhibit the following characteristics. He may, but then again, he may not.


  • With your partner, define culture. Then compare your definition to the ones that follow on the next two slides.


  • Culture “includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as member of society” (Kroeber & Kluckhohn, 1963, p. 81).

  • “Culture consists of ideals, values and assumptions about life that people widely share and that guide specific behaviors” (Brislin, 2000).


  • Culture is learned and shared (Ovando, Collier, & Combs, 2003).

  • Culture is transmitted from generation to generation, and is considered self evident and thus, is not widely discussed (Brislin, 2000).

Factors that influence culture
Factors that Influence Culture

  • An individual’s culture is affected by many factors.

  • Consider two Hispanic students.

    • Both are ten years old, both are of Mexican ancestry.

    • One was born in a rural village in Mexico and moved to the US a year ago. His father is a day laborer and they attend the local Evangelical church.

Factors that influence culture1
Factors that Influence Culture

  • Two Hispanic Students

    • The other student was born in the US.

    • His grandparents immigrated from Mexico City to the US when his grandfather decided to pursue his medical studies in the US.

    • Members of the local Catholic church, this student’s family speaks both English and Spanish.

Factors that influence culture2
Factors that Influence Culture

  • Do you think that these students, both of whom are Hispanic, have the same culture? Discuss this with a partner.

  • What are some of the factors illustrated in the example that can impact an individual’s culture? Make a list with your partner.

Factors that influence culture3
Factors that Influence Culture

  • There are many factors that impact an individual’s culture. Some of these factors are listed on the next slide.

Factors that influence culture4







Socioeconomic Level


Educational Level

Factors that Influence Culture

Factors that impact culture
Factors that Impact Culture

  • The next slide illustrates some of the factors that may influence your own culture.

  • Copy the illustration and write your name in the middle.

  • Write down a few key words for each of the factors that you feel influence your culture.

  • Share these factors with a partner.





The Individual






Characteristics of hispanic families1


Bien/Mal Educado




Importance of Education


Personal Space

Time Orientation

Characteristics of Hispanic Families

Characteristics of hispanic families2
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Familism

    • An individual is strongly identified with and attached to his family.

    • Family refers to both the nuclear family and the extended family.

    • There are strong feelings of loyalty and reciprocity among members of the family.

    • Familism may serve to protect individuals against stress by providing a support system (Triandis, Marin, Betancourt, Linsansky & Chang, 1982).

Characteristics of hispanic families3
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Bien/Mal Educado

    • Related to the importance of the family is the importance of being bien educado.

    • A direct translation of this term is “well- educated”.

    • However, in Spanish bien educado refers to being brought up well, that is, that an individual’s parents brought the individual up to be a well-behaved, respectful person.

Characteristics of hispanic families4
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Bien/Mal Educado

    • To tell a Spanish-speaking parent that his/her child is bien educado is a compliment and is greatly appreciated.

    • Conversely, to say that a child is mal educado is saying that the family did not fulfill its responsibility in terms of teaching an individual to behave properly.

    • Because of this, children learn that their behavior is a reflection on the entire family.

Characteristics of hispanic families5
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Collectivism

    • Related to the importance of family is the belief in collectivism.

    • Hispanics tend to view the needs of the group as superceding the needs of the individual.

    • This means that sometimes the individual has to sacrifice something for the good of the group (Marin & Triandis, 1985).

Characteristics of hispanic families6
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Collectivism

    • For example, a student may have to be absent from school to go to Mexico for a relative’s funeral.

    • This behavior does not mean that the family doesn’t value education.

    • It does show, however, that an extended family member (aunt) is as valued as is a member of the nuclear family (familism).

Characteristics of hispanic families7
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Collectivism

    • It also illustrates the value of collectivism. In this example, the student is asked to sacrifice an individual need (attending school) for the good of the family (attending the funeral).

Characteristics of hispanic families8
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Simpatía

    • This word appears to mean sympathy but has a different meaning in Spanish. It better translates to pleasantness and congeniality.

    • Simpatía refers to behaviors and actions that promote pleasant relationships.

    • These behaviors include behaving respectfully and in ways which promote harmony and avoid conflict (Marin and Marin, 1991).

Characteristics of hispanic families9
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Respeto

    • Respeto is related to simpatía.

    • Personal power is derived from being treated respectfully in interpersonal relations.

    • Therefore, a person who is considered to be powerful is treated very respectfully (Marin & Marin, 1991).

Characteristics of hispanic families10
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Importance of Education

    • There is a stereotype that Hispanics don’t value education.

    • In fact, Hispanic families do greatly value education.

    • In a recent poll, 95% of the Hispanic parents surveyed responded that they believed a college education was very important (Brown, 2004).

Characteristics of hispanic families11
Characteristics ofHispanic Families

  • Importance of Education

    • What may differ, however, is how they show that they value education.

    • Traditionally in Hispanic culture, the teacher is viewed with great respect.

    • The teacher and the school are seen as the experts in education.

Characteristics of hispanic families12
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

Importance of Education

  • Because of the high respect with which the teacher is held, parents will be reluctant to question the teacher, to give suggestions, or to appear to be interfering in the educational process.

  • This may give the appearance of not valuing education.

Characteristics of hispanic families13
Characteristics ofHispanic Families

  • Importance of Education

    • As a result, parents do not interfere with the experts’ job. This is a different view of the role of parents in education.

    • This differing view is sometimes perceived as a lack of interest in the children’s education.

Characteristics of hispanic families14
Characteristics ofHispanic Families

  • Importance of Education

    • In addition, Hispanic immigrants tend to have a lower educational level which means they have less experience with an educational system and how it functions.

    • Also, some Hispanic parents do not speak English.

Characteristics of hispanic families15
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Importance of Education

    • In addition, socioeconomic status can affect how a parent interacts with the school.

    • Parents with low SES may be working several jobs which do not allow the parent to attend school meetings.

Characteristics of hispanic families16
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Importance of Education

    • A lack of homework help and low attendance at school meetings, however, should not be perceived as not valuing education.

    • These factors combine to make it appear that the parents do not value education (Brown, 2004).

    • However, in general, Hispanics do believe that an education is important for their children.

Characteristics of hispanic families17
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Language Use

    • Some Hispanics are bilingual. Other Hispanics are monolingual Spanish-speaking or monolingual English-speaking.

    • In other cases, a Hispanic family may speak an indigenous language as a first language, Spanish as the second language and English as a third language.

Characteristics of hispanic families18
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Personal Space

    • Personal space refers to the amount of physical space that is considered culturally appropriate between people (Hall, 1969).

    • Hispanics have been found to prefer a smaller personal space

    • That is, they feel more comfortable when physically close to others (Marin & Marin, 1991).

Characteristics of hispanic families19
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Time Orientation

    • There is a difference between future and present-oriented cultures.

    • Future-oriented cultures emphasize planning for the future and value punctuality.

    • Present-oriented cultures tend to place more emphasis on what is occurring at the present moment. There is a more flexible view of time.

Characteristics of hispanic families20
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Time Orientation

    • Hispanics tend to be more present-oriented. The quality of the interpersonal interaction is more important than the length of time (Hall, 1969; Hall, 1983; Marin, 1987, Marin & Marin, 1991).

Characteristics of hispanic families21
Characteristics ofHispanic Families

  • Imagine that you are holding a family literacy workshop for Hispanic families in your library. What implications might the characteristics of Hispanics have on your workshop? Make a list with a partner.

Characteristics of hispanic families22
Characteristics ofHispanic Families

  • Some possible implications:

    • There may be a larger audience than expected (family means both nuclear and extended family).

    • You might not have all your audience present at your start time (present-oriented, more flexible view of time).

Characteristics of hispanic families23
Characteristics of Hispanic Families

  • Some possible implications:

    • You may need to have translators, if you are not proficient in Spanish (language use).

    • You will need to allow for time to establish respect for your audience as well as show an interest in them and their lives (respeto and simpatía).

    • There may not be as many questions as you anticipate (education and the parents’ role).


  • Banks, J. (2003). Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives, 4th edition. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

  • Brislin, R. (2000). Understanding culture’s influence on behavior, 2nd edition. New York: Harcourt School Publishers.

  • Brown, S. (2004, Fall). Confronting myths about Hispanics. Community Connections: Local Education Funds, 11(1).

  • Hall, E. T. (1969). The hidden dimension. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor Books.

  • Hall, E. T. (1983). The dance of life:The other dimension of time. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday.


  • Jacobson, M.F. (1998). Whiteness of a different color: European immigrants and the alchemy of race. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Kroeber, A. L., & Kluckhohn, C. (1963). Culture: A critical review of concepts and definitions. New York: Vintage Books.

  • Ovando, C. J., Collier, V. P. , & Combs, M. C. (2003). Bilingual and ESL classrooms: Teaching in multicultural contexts, 3rd edition. New York: McGraw Hill.

  • Marín, G. & Marín, B. V. O. (1991).Research with Hispanic populations. Applied Social Research Methods Series, Vol. 23. London: Sage Publications


  • Marín, G. & Triandis, H. C. (1985). Allocentrism as an important characteristic of the behavior of Latin Americans and Hispanics. In R.Díaz-Guerrero (Ed.), Cross-cultural and national studies in social psychology (pp. 85-104). Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishers

  • Triandis, H. C., Marín, G., Betancourt, H., Lisansky, J., & Chang, B. (1982). Dimensions of familism among Hispanic and mainstream Navy recruits. Chicago: University of Illinois, Department of Psychology.