International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

A Case against the Pathology of Matriarchy: The Effect of Family Structure on Need Achievement in Puerto Rican Students
Heather Rae-Espinoza

Understanding the adaptive nature of unique family structures necessitates considering culture-specific mediators of risk factors. While the pathology of matriarchy in developmental literature may predict negative outcomes, single-mother Puerto Rican households possess adaptive strengths for need achievement, or motivation. The cultural characteristic of familismo shapes how socialization practices instill need achievement. I argue in Puerto Rican families, extended family reinforces standards of excellence while fathers discourage self-reliance training. Eighteen Puerto Rican six- to twelve-year-olds participated in a story-based version of the Thematic Apperception Test and were interviewed regarding their family life. Ethnographic home-visits complemented assessments. Content analysis of need achievement scores found children with a father present and extended family absent had significantly lower need achievement motives than children with a father absent. This research can help both to explain findings of Puerto Rican underachievement and to create culturally-specific methods to motivate students while dissuading the prevailing pathology of matriarchy.

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