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Chapter 12

PSY321H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 12: Acculturation, Social Stratification, New Culture Movement

Course Code
Nick Rule

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Difficulties in Studying Acculturation
- acculturation is the process by which people migrate to and learn a culture that is different
from their original (or heritage) culture
- reaching consistent conclusions is difficult because acculturating individuals have such widely
varying experiences
- people move to a new country for many reasons, to dramatically different kinds of
environments (cultural ghettos, homogenous neighbourhood where they stand out), that
vary in their similarity to their heritage culture
- individuals have different personalities, goals, and expectations that affect their
acculturation experience
What Happens When People Move to a New Culture?
Changes in Attitudes Toward the Host Culture
- migrants, those who move from a heritage culture to a host culture
- sojourners only intend to stay temporarily, immigrants intend to move permanently
- (Lysgaard, 1955) identified an adjustment pattern
- in initial months, migrants had an especially positive time (“honeymoon stage”)
- most then begin to have increasingly negative views toward their host culture, between
6-18months (“crisis” or “culture shock stage”)
- culture shock, the feeling of being anxious, helpless, irritable, and in general,
homesick that one experiences on moving to a new culture
- after several months, sojourners start to adjust and enjoy their experiences more
(“adjustment phase”)
- this U-shaped adjustment curve can occur when sojourners return to their home country
- (Hsiao-Ying, 1995) tracked acculturation experiences of migrants to Japan, a very
homogenous society
- found an L-shaped curve which shared the honeymoon and crisis stage but found no
evidence of the adjustment stage
Who Adjusts Better?
Cultural Distance
- the difference between two cultures in their overall way of life
- an indirect measure of acculturation is language performance; one of the best predictors of
acculturative success
- average scores on TOEFL test higher in countries where the language is highly similar to
English (Dutch, German) and lower in highly distant language groups (Japanese)
- (Ward & Kennedy, 1995) compared the adjustment of Malaysian university students in New
Zealand and Singapore
- students completed a measure of sociocultural adjustment that assess their daily
problems in navigating through the new culture
- after 3 years of study, Malaysian students had an easier time getting by in Singapore
- other studies have found that sojourners from more distant countries

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- suffer from more distress, require more medical consultations
- have difficulty establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationships with members of
the host country
- various indigenous groups have had to adjust to a culture imposed on them
- Tsimshian, engaged in subsistence practices that allowed them to accumulate large
quantities of food and establish permanent, highly stratified settlements
- Eastern Cree, subsistence practices didn’t allow them to accumulate much food so that
some are migratory and have low sociocultural stratification
- Carrier, moderate degree of food accumulation and social stratification
- (Barry & Annis, 1974) reasoned that the complex social stratification of the permanent
settlements of the Tsimshian was more similar to mainstream Canadian culture
- found that the Tsimshian acculturated to mainstream Canadian culture with the fewest
difficulties; the Easter Cree had the most signs of stress; Carrier were intermediate
Culture Fit
- the degree to which an individual’s personality is more similar to the dominant cultural values
in the host country
- consider the personality trait of “extraversion”
- (Searle & Ward, 1990) found that Malaysians and Singaporeans who scored high on
extraversion demonstrated more signs of psychological well-being while living in New
Zealand than those who scored low
- (Armes & Ward, 1989) found that English-speakers living in Singapore who scored high
on extraversion reported feeling more boredom, frustration, depression, health problems
- self-concept; would seem that people with more independent self-concepts would be a better
cultural fit in individualistic societies
- (Cross, 1995) investigated how well students from Korea, Japan, and China fared in
acculturation to the US
- found a positive relation between the independence of one’s self-concept and the
likelihood that one engaged in direct coping strategies
- those that were particularly independent were more likely to use active strategies
e.g. making a plan of action to get rid of a problem
- found a positive relation between interdependence and perceived stress
- in a sample of American college students who weren’t acculturating, found no relation
between independence, interdependence, and stress or coping
Acculturation Strategies
- (Berry & Sam, 1997) proposed two critical issues to the outcome of one’s acculturation
- whether people attempt to participate in the larger society of their host culture
- whether people strive to maintain their own heritage culture and identity
- proposed to be independent, measured by a questionnaire
- integration strategy involves attempts to fit in and fully participate in the host culture while
striving to maintain the traditions of one’s heritage culture
- lowest degree of acculturative stress; protective features e.g. lack of prejudice and
discrimination, involvement in two cultural communities and access to two support groups
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