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Chapter 7

PSYC14H3 Chapter 7: Living in Multicultural Worlds


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC14H3
Professor
Nicholas Hobson
Chapter
7

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Week 10 Chapter 7: Living in Multicultural Worlds
North American, Western Europe, and Australia have witnessed some of the greatest and most
diverse influxes of immigration
Currently, worldwide, an estimated 130 million people are living in countries they were not born
in
What happens to people’s psychology when they move to a culture that is different from the one
where they were raised?
Difficulties in Studying Acculturation
Acculturation: the process by which people migrate to and learn culture that is different
from their original (or heritage) culture
Reaching consistent conclusions on acculturation is difficult for researchers because
acculturating individuals have such widely varying experiences
Acculturating individuals can also move to dramatically different kinds of environments
People tend to move to cultures that vary in their similarity to their heritage culture
Different individuals have very different personalities, goals, and expectations that affect
their acculturation experiences
What Happens When People Move to a New Culture?
Moving to a new culture involves psychological adjustment this occurs over a wide variety of
domains acquiring a new language, learning new interpersonal and social behaviours,
becoming accustomed to new values, often becoming a member of a minority group, and
adjusting one’s self-concept
Changes in Attitudes Toward the Host Culture
Migrants: individuals who move from a heritage culture (their original culture) to a host
culture (their new culture)
o Includes those who intend to stay only temporarily (sojourners) and those who
intend to move permanently (immigrants)
Lysgaard, 1955 a common pattern of adjustment to acculturation is a U-shaped curve
o In the first few months people often have very positive feelings about the host
culture, but over time (6- 18 months) this gives way to the negative feelings
associated with culture shock
o With time, people adjust to their new culture and often develop positive feelings
toward it
Culture shock: feeling of being anxious, helpless, irritable, and in general, homesick that
one experiences in moving to a new culture
The U-shaped pattern of adjustment to new cultures seems to characterize the experiences
of many migrants, and a number of other researchers have found evidence that tends to be
consistent with this model, although the timing of the stages varies considerably
It is possible that in homogeneous societies the adjustment phase takes longer
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The success of people’s acculturation experiences seems to be influenced by the
homogeneity of the society in which they are trying to accumulate one societal feature
of a host culture that seems to influence the acculturating individuals’ adjustment is the
ease with which migrants can be accommodated by the host culture
Factors that Influence How People Will Adjust to their Acculturation Experiences
Cultural Distance
The difference between two cultures in their overall ways of life
Many studies show that one of the best predictors of acculturative success is language
ability, and people’s confidence in their mastery over the host culture’s language greatly
affects how they identify with that culture the easier it is for migrants to learn the
language of their host culture, the better they should fare in the acculturation process
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) source of data for assessing how
easily people learn the language of the host culture
Studies have found that sojourners from more distant cultures suffer from more distress,
require more medical consultations, and have more social difficulties in general, than
those who traverse less cultural distance
In particular, cultural distance seems to make it difficult to establish and maintain
interpersonal relationships with members of the host culture
Cultural Fit
Degree to which an individual’s personality is more similar to the dominant cultural
values in the host culture
The greater the cultural fit in the host culture, the more easily he or she should acculturate
to it
People who score high on extraversion are more likely to move to other countries,
particularly to urban areas, when compared with those who are less extraverted
Extraverts will fare better in the acculturation experience only where they fit in well with
the culture extraversion does not always facilitate acculturation highly extraverted
immigrants fare better in terms of their well-being when they immigrate to countries with
overall more pronounced levels of extraversion
People with more independent self-concepts have been found to suffer less distress in
acculturating to the U.S. than people with more interdependent self-concepts, and people
who have patterns of emotions that are similar to those from the host culture report
experiencing greater relational well-being
Acculturation Strategies
Berry & Sam, 1997 two issues that are critical to the outcome of one’s acculturation
1. Whether people attempt to participate in the larger society of their host culture are
people actively seeking to fit in and do they have positive attitudes toward their host
culture?
2. Whether people are striving to maintain their own heritage culture and identity as
members of that culture do people have positive attitudes toward their heritage
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culture, are they actively seeking ways to preserve the traditions of their heritage
culture?
These two issues are proposed to be independent, such that it is possible for someone to
possess positive attitudes toward both their heritage and host cultures, negative attitudes
toward both cultures, or positive attitudes toward one and negative attitudes toward the
other
Initiation strategy: involves attempts to fit in and fully participant in the host culture
while at the same time striving to maintain the traditions of one’s heritage culture
people using this strategy have positive views toward both their heritage and their host
culture they are seeking the best of both worlds
Marginalization strategy: involves little or no effort to participate in the host culture or to
maintain the traditions of the heritage culture people using this strategy have negative
views toward both their heritage and host cultures tend to identify more as global
citizens
Assimilation strategy: attempt to fit in and fully participate in the host culture while
making little or no effort to maintain the traditions of one’s heritage culture involves
having positive attitudes toward the host culture and negative attitudes toward the
heritage culture
Separation strategy: efforts to maintain the traditions of the heritage culture while making
little or no effort to participate in the host culture this is composed of positive attitudes
toward the heritage culture and negative attitudes toward the host culture
When host cultures promote tolerance for diversity and multiculturalism, migrants are
more likely to adopt more positive attitudes toward the host culture, which increases the
likelihood that they will pursue integration or assimilation strategies
Integration strategy is hypothesized to result in the lowest degree of acculturative stress
and much research shows that this strategy yields the most favorable outcomes
Different but Often Unequal
For many people in the world, the experience of moving to a new culture is fraught with
active discrimination, systematic disenfranchisement, unjust treatment, mocking and
humiliation, violence, and perhaps even threats to their lives
Identity denial: an individual’s cultural identity is called into question because he or she
doesn’t seem to match the stereotype of the culture. E.g. “Where are you from?” and the
follow-up question “no, where are you really from?”
Cheryan & Monin (2005) when asked to list the names of popular American TV
shows or to list the number of American practices they engaged in, Asian-Americans who
had their identity denied came up with longer lists of TV shows and American practices
than Asian-Americans who did not have their identity denied or even White Americans
Stereotype threat: the fear that one might do something that will inadvertently confirm a
negative stereotype about one’s group
o They represent cultural beliefs they are shared beliefs among members of a
culture
o It is not necessary that you believe the stereotypes to be aware of them
o People experience it when they realize that they are at risk for confirming a
negative stereotype, and in doing so, they end up proving the stereotype
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