Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican Americans

Construct: Degree of acculturation of Mexican Americans

Description of Measure: The Acculturation Scale for Mexican Americans (ARSMA) originally was administered on a 5-point Likert scale, differentiating between 5 levels of acculturation: Very Mexican, Mexican-Oriented, Bicultural True Bicultural, Anglo-Oriented Bicultural, and Very Anglicized. Results confirmed that lower levels of acculturation were to be found in 1st generation Mexican Americans and increased with each generation after. The primary limitation in this scale was the linear measure of Acculturation scaleacculturation - as if acculturation were a continuum. Only three of the original four factors are replicated in ARSMA-II (30-item) which also adds two sub scores that yield four acculturation modes: integration and assimilation, and separation and marginalization (MARG = 18-item independent scale). Compared to the original study, behavioral aspects of acculturation are still being measured, but affective measures which assess positive and negative affirmations of ethnicity have been added. For example, in questions such as “I like to identify myself as…” and “I have difficulty accepting” certain aspects such as values, practices and customs, ideas, and attitudes of other ethnic groups as well as from one’s own ethnic group (Cuellar et al, 1995) with a rating scale of 1-5 with 1 being “not at all” to 5 being “Extremely often or almost always”.

Validity and Reliability
The two subscales (Anglo Orientation Subscale (AOS) (13-item) and Mexican Orientation Subscale (MOS)(17-item) were found to have good internal reliabilities and high Pearson correlation coefficients with the original scale (.86 and .88, respectively). Construct validity was measured and when compared to the original scale, a high Pearson correlation (r=.89) was found. Reliability and test-retest reliability for ARSMA-II scales are high as indicated by correlations for the AOS and MOS -.83 and .88, respectively. Overall marginality scale also has good internal consistency (coefficient alpha = .87) and all other internal reliabilities are quite good (MARG= .87, MARG= .90, MEXMAR= .68, and MAMARG=.91). The overall test-retest reliability for this measure was .96. A Pearson product moment correlation coefficient of .89 was obtained between linearly derived acculturation score from ARSMA and the linearly derived acculturation score obtained from ARSMA-II, suggesting concurrent validity. In a recent study by Jimenez et al (2010), the internal consistency was also confirmed at being high for AOS (Cronbach’s Alpha= .93). In that study a very brief (2 item) version was recommended for use in future research, due to the high correlation of these particular items with the total score, and the fact that availability of this very short version might encourage its inclusion in more studies with Hispanic/Latino caregivers.

Use with Ethnically Diverse Caregivers
The limitations of the first scale were modified, subscales were created, and the ARSMA has now been revised to ARSMA II (Cuellar et al, 1995). The ARSMA II has been validated using the new instrument’s separate subscales for assessing acculturation processes by measuring cultural orientation toward the Mexican and Anglo culture independently, which reflects a multidimensional conceptualization of acculturation. Recent studies have found validity in older adult and caregiver populations (Gallagher-Thompson et al, 1996; Haan et al., 2003; Jimenez et al, 2010). The ARSMA has also been modified for the geriatric population (Geriatric Acculturation Ratings Scale for Mexican Americans – G-ARSMA) (Gonzalez, Haan, and Hinton, 2001).

Copies in English and Spanish can be obtained by contacting the Stanford Geriatric Education Center through its website.


ARSMA-II is recommended for use with Spanish speaking caregivers, since level of acculturation is correlated with many indices of distress, although not always as one might predict. The two-item version suggested by Jimenez and associates may simplify assessment of this complex construct in future studies.


Cuellar, I., Harris, L.C., and Jasso, R.(1980). An acculturation scale for Mexican American normal and clinical populations. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 2: 199-217.

Cuellar, I., Arnold, B., and Maldonado, R. (1995). Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican Americans-II: A revision of the original ARSMA scale. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 17:3 275-304.

Gallagher-Thompson, D., Leary, M.C., Ossinalde, C., Romero, J.J., Wald, M.J., Fernandez- Gamarra, E. (1996). Hispanic caregivers of older adults with dementia: Cultural issues in outreach and intervention. Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society, 21:2 211-232.

Gonzalez, H.M., Haan, M.N., Hinton, L. (2001). Acculturation and the prevalence of depression in older Mexican Americans: Baseline results of the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 49: 948-953.

Haan, M.N., Mungas, D.M., Gonzalez, H.M., Ortiz, T.A., Acharya, A., Jagust, W.J. (2003). Prevalence of dementia in older latinos: The influence of Type 2 diabetes Mellitus, stroke, and genetic factors. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 51: 169-177.

Hernandez, A.M., and Bigatti, S.M. (2010). Depression among older Mexican American caregivers. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 16:1 50-58.

Jimenez, D.E., Gray, H.L., Cucciare, M., Kumbhani, S., Gallagher-Thompson, D. (2010). Using the Revised Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican Americans (ARSMA-II) with Older Adults. Hispanic Health Care International, 8:1 14-22.