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AN EXPANDED VIEW OF ACCULTURATION: IMPLICATIONS FOR RISK TAKING BEHAVIORS AMONG COLLEGE-ATTENDING IMMIGRANT EMERGING ADULTS. Seth J. Schwartz, Ph.D. University of Miami October 21, 2010. IMMIGRATION AND ACCULTURATION.

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An expanded view of acculturation

AN EXPANDED VIEW OF ACCULTURATION:

IMPLICATIONS FOR RISK TAKING BEHAVIORS AMONG COLLEGE-ATTENDING IMMIGRANT EMERGING ADULTS

Seth J. Schwartz, Ph.D.University of MiamiOctober 21, 2010


An expanded view of acculturation

IMMIGRATION AND ACCULTURATION

Immigration is at an all-time high, both in the United States and in many other Western countries (van de Vijver & Phalet, 2004; Schwartz, Montgomery, & Briones, 2006).

Since 1965, most immigration to the United States has come from heavily collectivist countries in Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean (Portes & Rumbaut, 2006).

There is also a steady flow of White immigrants, mostly from Eastern Europe (Birman & Taylor-Ritzler, 2007; Hinkel, 2000).

The U.S. is consistently rated as the most individualistic country in the world (Hofstede, 2001) – suggesting that the gap between immigrants’ heritage cultures and U.S. culture may be large.


An expanded view of acculturation

HERITAGE CULTURE

RECEIVING CULTURE

IMMIGRATION AND ACCULTURATION

In most cases, immigration is followed by acculturation – changes in cultural practices, values, and identifications that accompany contact with people from the receiving cultural context.

Early views of acculturation were unidimensional – immigrants were assumed to discard their cultures of origin as they acculturated to the receiving society (e.g., Gordon, 1964):


An expanded view of acculturation

HERITAGE

RECEIVING

IMMIGRATION AND ACCULTURATION

In more recent years, cultural psychologists have adopted a bidimensional model of acculturation – where heritage and receiving cultural orientations are considered as separate dimensions.


An expanded view of acculturation

MULTIDIMENSIONALITY OF ACCULTURATION

Acculturation is multidimensional in terms of heritage and receiving cultural orientations – but it is also multidimensional in terms of the domains in which it operates:

1. Cultural practices refer to behaviors such as language use, media preferences, social relationships, and celebrations;

2. Cultural values refer to beliefs and ideals associated with specific cultural contexts (e.g., machismo in Hispanics, modesty in Southeast Asians) – as well as more general cultural values such as individualism and collectivism; and

3. Cultural identifications refer to the extent to which one feels attached to one’s ethnic and national groups.


An expanded view of acculturation

Heritage languageHeritage-culture foods

Receiving-society languageReceiving-culture foods

PRACTICES

CollectivismInterdependenceFamilism

IndividualismIndependence

HERITAGE

RECEIVING

VALUES

IDENTIFICATIONS

Receiving country

Country of origin

MULTIDIMENSIONALITY OF ACCULTURATION

So acculturation is multidimensional in two separate ways:

Schwartz, S. J., Unger, J. B., Zamboanga, B. L., & Szapocznik, J. (2010). Rethinking the concept of acculturation: Implications for theory and research. American Psychologist, 65, 237-251.


An expanded view of acculturation

MULTIDIMENSIONALITY OF ACCULTURATION

However, the literatures on behavioral acculturation, cultural values, and cultural identifications have been largely separate from one another (Schwartz, Unger, Zamboanga, & Szapocznik, 2010).

The purpose of the study I’m presenting here was to examine all of these dimensions of acculturation as predictive of health risk behaviors in a sample of young-adult college students from immigrant families.


An expanded view of acculturation

THE IMMIGRANT PARADOX

One might think that moving from a resource-poor country to a wealthy nation like the United States would be associated with a drastic improvement in health outcomes.

However, research has shown just the opposite!!

The longer that immigrants live in the United States (or the more acculturated they are to American culture), the more likely they are to:

  • Use illicit drugs (Allen, Elliot, Fuligni, Morales, Hambarsoomian, & Schuster, 2008);

  • Engage in unsafe sexual practices (Ford & Norris, 1993);

  • Consume fast food and be physically inactive (Unger et al., 2004).


An expanded view of acculturation

?

THE IMMIGRANT PARADOX

A similar conclusion has been drawn between first-generation (born outside the US) and second-generation (born in the US but raised by immigrant parents) individuals (Prado et al., 2009).

The message from these studies seems to be that, among immigrants and their immediate descendants, becoming Americanized is hazardous to your health!!


An expanded view of acculturation

THE IMMIGRANT PARADOX

However, virtually all of these studies have relied on unidimensional models of acculturation, where heritage and receiving cultural orientations were cast as polar opposites.

As a result, we don’t really know whether the risk is based on acquiring American orientations, or losing heritage orientations.

A more precise understanding of where the risks of “acculturation” come from would help us to know how to advise researchers, educators, policy makers, and the public.


An expanded view of acculturation

THE IMMIGRANT PARADOX

The acculturation experience can be very different depending on one’s ethnicity (Schwartz et al., 2010; Steiner, 2009) – suggesting that we should examine effects of acculturation separately for each ethnic group (Sue & Chu, 2003).


An expanded view of acculturation

METHOD

Sample

  • 3,251 emerging-adult students (72% women) from 30 colleges and universities around the United States.

  • Mean age 20.2; SD3.31 (97% between 18 and 29)

  • All participants reported that both of their parents were born outside the United States.


An expanded view of acculturation

METHOD

Ethnicity and Immigrant Generation


An expanded view of acculturation

METHOD

Most Common Countries of Origin

Whites – the former Soviet Union, the former Yugoslavia, Poland, and Great Britain;

Blacks – Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, and various African countries;

Hispanics – Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Peru;

East Asians – China, Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines;

South Asians – India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh;

Middle Eastern – Lebanon, Palestine, and Iran.


An expanded view of acculturation

METHOD

Measures – Cultural Practices

Stephenson Multigroup Acculturation Scale – 32 items (15 for American cultural practices, 17 for heritage cultural practices)

  • Items indexing language use, food preferences, friends, media, et cetera.

  • Heritage cultural practices – α = .89

  • American cultural practices – α = .83


An expanded view of acculturation

METHOD

Measures – Cultural Values

Three kinds of cultural values were measured:

  • Horizontal individualism and collectivism – how one conceptualizes others at the same social level (e.g., peers, co-workers);

  • Vertical individualism and collectivism – how one conceptualizes authority figures and elders (e.g., parents, bosses, teachers);


An expanded view of acculturation

METHOD

Measures – Cultural Values

Three kinds of cultural values were measured:

  • Independence and interdependence – how one relates to others in general.


An expanded view of acculturation

METHOD

Measures – Cultural Values

Individualism and collectivism were assessed using 4-item scales developed by Triandis and Gelfand (1995):

Alphas ranged from .74 to .78.


An expanded view of acculturation

METHOD

Measures – Cultural Values

Independence and interdependence were assessed using the Self-Construal Scale (Singelis, 1994).

Independence – 12 items, α = .74;

Interdependence – 12 items, α = .77.


An expanded view of acculturation

METHOD

Measures – Cultural Identifications

Ethnic identity was measured using the Multi-Group Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM; Phinney, 1992).

The MEIM consists of 12 items (α = .90) measuring the extent to which one has thought about, and is attached to, one’s ethnic group.

We adapted the MEIM to measure American identity by changing “my ethnic group” to “the United States” for each item (α = .90) .


An expanded view of acculturation

METHOD

Measures – Health Risk Behaviors

We assessed hazardous alcohol use, along with a number of other risky behaviors.

Hazardous alcohol use was assessed using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT; Saunders et al., 1993)

In the present sample, Cronbach’s α was .79.


An expanded view of acculturation

METHOD

Measures – Health Risk Behaviors

We asked about other health risk behaviors in the 30 days prior to assessment:

Drug Use

Marijuana, hard drugs, inhalants, injecting drugs, prescription drug misuse

Sexual Risk Taking

Oral sex, anal sex, unprotected sexual activity, sex while drunk/high, casual sex (sex with a stranger).


An expanded view of acculturation

METHOD

Measures – Health Risk Behaviors

We asked about other health risk behaviors in the 30 days prior to assessment:

Risky Driving

Driving while intoxicated, and riding with a driver who was intoxicated.


An expanded view of acculturation

METHOD

Procedures

  • Online data collection between September 2007 and October 2009

  • 30 sites around the United States

  • Students from psychology, sociology, education, and family studies courses directed to study website

  • 85% of participants who logged in completed all six survey pages


An expanded view of acculturation

RESULTS

Correlations among Cultural Variables

We first computed a table of correlations among the cultural variables:


An expanded view of acculturation

RESULTS

Correlations among Cultural Variables

It is of note that the corresponding heritage and American cultural variables were generally modestly correlated with one another:

  • Heritage practices with American practices, r = -.17;

  • Horizontal individualism with horizontal collectivism, r = .21;

  • Vertical individualism with vertical collectivism, r = .15;

  • Independence with interdependence, r = .21;

  • Ethnic identity with American identity, r = .25.


An expanded view of acculturation

RESULTS

Risk Behaviors by Heritage and American Cultural Orientations

We then proceeded to examine the associations of heritage and American orientations with health risk behaviors.

These models took the following form:

Heritage Practices

Heritage Values

Health Risk Behaviors

Heritage Identifications

American Practices

American Values

American Identifications


An expanded view of acculturation

RESULTS

Creating Composite Variables for Cultural Values

Because we had three indicators for American values, and three for heritage values, we used exploratory factor analysis to extract composite indicators for each of these constructs.

Single factors emerged from both the heritage and American values indicators:

American Values: eigenvalue 1.67, 55.62% of variability explained, factor loadings ranged from .57 to .82;

Heritage Values: eigenvalue 1.93, 64.48% of variability explained; factor loadings ranged from .78 to .82.


An expanded view of acculturation

RESULTS

Creating Subscales for Health Risk Behaviors

We then created subscales for Illicit Drug Use, Sexual Risk Taking, and Impaired Driving by summing the scores for the individual behaviors within each category.

Spearman-Brown reliability coefficients for these subscales were:

Illicit drug use, .84;

Sexual risk taking, .73; and

Impaired driving, .67.


An expanded view of acculturation

RESULTS

Poisson Regression: Health Risk Behaviors by Heritage and American Cultural Orientations

The risk behavior subscales followed a Poisson distribution, where the mode is zero and frequencies decrease with increasing values:


An expanded view of acculturation

RESULTS

In Poisson regression, the unstandardized regression coefficient can be converted into an incidence rate ratio (IRR) by taking the exponential (inverse natural logarithm).

When we estimated the regression model on the sample as a whole, no significant findings emerged.

Following Sue and Chu (2003), we divided the sample by ethnic group and re-estimated the model separately on each group.

Following guidelines suggested by Shieh (2001), we included only those groups with n ≥ 200 – Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, East Asians, and South Asians.


An expanded view of acculturation

RESULTS

Whites

For Whites from immigrant families, the following results emerged:


An expanded view of acculturation

RESULTS

Blacks

For Blacks from immigrant families, the following results emerged:


An expanded view of acculturation

RESULTS

Hispanics

For Hispanics from immigrant families, the following results emerged:


An expanded view of acculturation

RESULTS

East Asians

For East Asians from immigrant families, the following results emerged:


An expanded view of acculturation

RESULTS

South Asians

For South Asians from immigrant families, the following results emerged:


An expanded view of acculturation

CONCLUSIONS

There are a few important points to take away from these results:

1. Acculturation is clearly not a unidimensional phenomenon, where acquiring American cultural orientations means discarding one’s heritage orientations.

2. Acculturation is also multidimensional in terms of the processes that are assumed to change – where practices, values, and identifications represent separate but related components of acculturation.

3. The present results also support Sue and Chu’s (2003) contention that acculturation is related differently to health outcomes for different ethnic groups.


An expanded view of acculturation

CONCLUSIONS

With some exceptions, the present results do not support the “immigrant paradox,” where acquiring American orientations is assumed to be associated with increased health risks and problems.

Rather, it appears to be loss of heritage cultural orientations – especially traditional practices and collectivist values – that is associated with health risks in the present sample.

Interestingly, American practices, values, and identifications appeared to be most harmful for East and South Asians, and less so for other ethnic groups.

This may be because, among immigrant groups, Asians are among the most likely to prefer English over their heritage languages (Portes & Rumbaut, 2001, 2006).


An expanded view of acculturation

CONCLUSIONS

Also interestingly, for Hispanics, heritage identifications were positively associated with drug use and sexual risk taking.

One possible reason for this might be that current immigration debates center largely around Hispanic immigrants (e.g., Huntington, 2004).

Especially when the correlation between heritage practices and identifications is controlled (as is the case in regression approaches), the unique variability in heritage identifications might index defensive ethnic identifications (reactive ethnicity; Rumbaut, 2008).

This is especially tenable given that most of the Hispanics in our sample came from Florida, Arizona, Texas, and California – all states where immigration is a divisive issue.


An expanded view of acculturation

CONCLUSIONS

So, to sum up:

  • Acculturation is a complex process, and this complexity needs to be taken into account when conducting health-related research (Schwartz et al., 2010).

  • Acculturation is not a “one size fits all” experience. Depending on their ethnicity – and likely their receiving context as well – individuals go through the acculturation process differently (Steiner, 2009), and the process is differentially associated with health outcomes.


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