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Rueda -

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Journal of Adolescent Research


We explored Mexican American adolescents’ goals as discussed with a romantic relationship partner. Thirty-four Mexican American hetero-dating couples aged 15 to 17 (M = 11.71 months dating) from an urban city in a Southwest border state participated in a video-taped discussion. Drawing on Social Cognitive Career Theory, we inductively coded for themes and found that youth prioritized career, education, family planning, travel, and relationship goals. We were sensitized to the centrality of financial aspiration to each of these themes, and further operationalized youth’s level of financial aspiration as either modest, ambivalent, or high. Applying this template, we analyzed the extent of fit of adolescents’ goals to their financial aspiration. Adolescents with modest financial aspiration evidenced clearer paths to goal-success compared to adolescents with high financial aspiration. Although adolescents with higher financial aspiration described parallel career choices, adolescents with more modest financial goals were more apt to describe clear steps to attaining their careers and additional pursuits. We recommend programing that provides the opportunity for adolescents to connect their financial aspiration to their preferred careers and lifestyle goals. Such programs should also include relationship and family-planning, as these are important to diverse youths and influence post-secondary education and career pursuit.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Sage in Journal of Adolescent Research on August 30, 2023, available online:

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