A recent theoretical model of centrality (Bernstein, 1987; Bernstein, Hofmann, Santiago, & Diebolt, 1989) suggests that the importance attached to certain "central issues" may increase the vulnerability of individuals to distress and depression, and may explain the differential rates of depression among gender, racial, and ethnic groups. The present study was designed to examine the importance of central issues as reported by Anglo, Black, and Hispanic men and women (N=169). Multivariate analyses revealed significant gender, ethnicity, and gender X ethnicity effects. Specifically, women considered Intimacy significantly more important than did men, whereas men attached more importance than women to Affiliation. Anglos rated Achievement significantly higher than did Hispanics and Blacks; Hispanics considered Affiliation more important than the other two groups; and Blacks considered Intimacy the least important among the groups. Moreover, Hispanic men attributed significantly greater importance to Change, Adventure, and Control, whereas Hispanic women attached the least significance among all the groups to Control. The results are discussed in terms of cultural influences on sex role orientation and central issues, and the process by which culture and ethnicity may be related to vulnerability to depression and distress.
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