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Gender and Developmental Pathways of Acculturation and Adaptation in Immigrant Adolescents


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Although gender is a central topic in adolescent development, it has been an under-researched aspect of adolescent development in migration. We examine the interplay between acculturation conditions, cultural orientations, and adaptation outcomes from middle to late adolescence to illuminate the gender pathways of acculturation. Our research on acculturating Turkish Belgian adolescents who combine collectivist heritage culture with a relatively individualist mainstream culture identifies social affordances and constraints on their bicultural development.
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177S.S. Chuang and C.S. Tamis-LeMonda (eds.), Gender Roles in Immigrant Families,
Advances in Immigrant Family Research, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4614-6735-9_11,
© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013
As children enter adolescence, the task of forming a socially accepted identity
herald increased sensitivity to the opinions of signifi cant others. Formation of a
socially approved identity is particularly challenging for immigrant children—and
for the children of immigrants—who are exposed to confl icting visions of the fam-
ily and the wider society about healthy self and identity (Phinney, 1990 ). Gaining
competence in two cultures and moving from one cultural context to the other fl ex-
ibly are key skills immigrant adolescents need to master so as to function optimally
in their multiple worlds (Sam & Oppedal, 2002 ). However, developing a fl exible
“bicultural” identity is more complicated for some than for others.
Acculturation is an integral facet of psychological development in immigrant chil-
dren. As children grow, they must learn the different expectations of different cultural
ecologies to negotiate them successfully (Sam, 2006 ). To the extent that girls and boys
are exposed to contradictory norms and demands of home and host cultures, accultura-
tion also follows gendered pathways that refl ect different affordances and constraints on
bicultural development (Suárez-Orozco & Qin, 2006 ). Despite the central role of gen-
der in adolescent development (Ruble, Martin, & Berenbaum, 2006 ), gender has been
a neglected aspect of psychological research in acculturation (for exception, see Chuang
& Tamis-LeMonda, 2009 ). As a consequence, a great deal of variation in the develop-
ment of acculturating adolescents has gone unexplained (Pessar & Mahler, 2003 ).
In this chapter, we examine gendered acculturation in adolescents of immigrant
families. Acculturation is multifaceted; individuals do not necessarily acculturate in
all domains of life on the same timetable or in the same direction (Phinney, 2006 ;
Chapter 11
Gender and Developmental Pathways
of Acculturation and Adaptation in Immigrant
Derya Güngör and Marc H. Bornstein
D . Güngör (*)
University of Leuven, Centre for Social and Cultural Psychology ,
Tiensestraat 102, 3000 , Leuven , Belgium
M. H. Bornstein
NICHD/SCFR, National Institutes of Health , 6705 Rockledge Drive ,
Bethesda , MD 20892 , USA
Phinney & Flores, 2002 ). In addition, acculturation is dynamic; even younger and
older adolescents respond differently to contextual demands of home and host cul-
tures. Specifi cally, younger adolescents often navigate between these social and
cultural ecologies more fl uidly than do older adolescents, as they are developmen-
tally more fl exible and open to new experiences (Aranowitz, 1984 ; Berry, Phinney,
Sam, & Vedder, 2006 ). Kwak ( 2003 ) states that “ enculturation , the infl uence of
culture on the developmental process within a particular cultural context, is stronger
during adolescence than earlier childhood as adolescents lifestyles broaden beyond
their family contexts” (p. 120), but as Yau and Smetana ( 1996 ) concluded, the
impact of culture on psychological development is particularly salient in late ado-
lescence. Accordingly, we adopt a multidimensional and dynamic approach to
acculturation, and we examine gender similarities and differences in different
aspects of acculturation between middle (14–17 years of age) and late adolescence
(18–20 years). We focus on youth in Turkish immigrant families in a Western
European country, Belgium, because they have to come to terms with very different
and often confl icting worldviews in heritage and mainstream cultures (Güngör,
2008 ; Güngör, Bornstein, & Phalet, 2012 ; Phalet & Güngör, 2009 ). Closer explora-
tion of the acculturation of Turkish Belgian adolescents might therefore help under-
stand how the development is gendered in adolescents with a collectivist background
who were born and now reside in a relatively individualist culture.
Dimensions of Acculturation
Studies of psychological acculturation broadly follow one or more of three lines of
investigation: acculturation conditions, acculturation orientations, and acculturation
outcomes (Arends-Tóth & van de Vijver, 2006 ). Acculturation conditions refer to
historical backgrounds, socioeconomic situations, and attitudinal context of accul-
turating groups, and they jointly determine the ways acculturating individuals
respond and adapt to multicultural living. Whether the receiving society is support-
ive or intolerant of cultural diversity, as refl ected by policies, public discourse, and
opportunity structures, the ways immigrants perceive intercultural relations and the
extent to which immigrants are committed to collective cultural continuity (e.g.,
language retention, ethnic media use, and social network) constitute the main
themes of this line of research. Acculturation orientations are commonly studied
from the perspective of retention of the heritage culture and willingness to adopt the
culture of the receiving society (e.g., Berry et al., 2006 ), and they link acculturation
conditions to acculturation outcomes. For example, when discrimination is high and
social mobilization is restricted in the mainstream society, immigrant adolescents
often develop a strong identifi cation with as well as enhanced reliance on their eth-
nic community to go ahead in the society (Güngör, 2007 ; Phalet & Swyngedouw,
2004 ). Acculturation orientations are not trait characteristics, but rather are situated.
Specifi cally, orientation toward heritage or mainstream culture varies between pri-
vate and public domains (Arends-Tóth & van de Vijver, 2003 ). The public domain
D. Güngör and M.H. Bornstein
involves the social life of both majority and minority groups (e.g., school and work
life); the private domain involves more personal, value-related matters (e.g., lan-
guage use at home and child- rearing). Acculturation outcomes relate to whether
individuals are feeling well (i.e., psychological adaptation) and doing well (i.e.,
sociocultural adaptation). The former is examined from the perspective of coping
with stress; thus, high self-esteem and low levels of symptomology index better
psychological adaptation. The latter refers to social learning and involves social
skills, such as the acquisition of effective behaviors and mastery of the new lan-
guage (Ward & Kennedy, 1994 ).
We explore gender differences and similarities in each of these three dimensions
of acculturation. We fi rst examine the frequency of adolescents experiences of dis-
crimination, as this is a critical aspect of immigrant adolescents living conditions.
We distinguish between perceived personal and group discrimination. Many adoles-
cents might not have experienced discrimination personally, but might still be aware
of discrimination against their ethnic group. Personal discrimination may under-
mine self-esteem (Bourguignon, Seron, Yzerbyt, & Herman, 2006 ); perceived
group discrimination may enhance ethnic identifi cation (see Dion, 2001 ). Next, we
investigate acculturation orientations in terms of adolescents endorsement of heri-
tage culture maintenance and mainstream culture adoption in both private (home)
and public (school and work) domains. Finally, we explore the levels of self-esteem
and self-reported symptomology to evaluate psychological adaptation and the
obstacles in social life to assess sociocultural adaptation. Before turning to the
study, we briefl y describe the acculturation conditions, orientations, and outcomes
of Turkish migrants and their children in Western Europe, and the interplay between
gender and the dimensions of acculturation focusing on the youth with Turkish
Turks in Belgium and Western Europe
The rst Turkish migrants arrived in Western Europe as “guest workers” in the
1960s, and many settled in their new countries permanently upon reunion with their
family and as their children grew older. Studies throughout Western Europe
(Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, France, etc.) have shown that the
acculturation conditions of Turkish migrants are characterized by little or no
education, low affl uence, and high rates of unemployment (Crul & Vermeulen,
2006 ; Phalet & Kosic, 2006 ). Although the second generation has achieved higher
educational and professional attainments than their parents, offspring of immigrants
continue to inhabit the most underprivileged and least stable positions in their
respective mainstream societies (Tielens, 2005 ). Turkish migrants constitute the
least favored immigrant group by majorities (Arends-Tóth & van de Vijver, 2009 ),
and their adolescents perceive high discrimination (Vedder, Sam, & Liebkind,
2007 ). Turkish migrants are primarily oriented toward their heritage culture and
show strong ethnic solidarity possibly to cope with stresses related to ethnic
11 Acculturation and Adaptation in Immigrant Adolescents in Belgium
denigration and discrimination and to move ahead in the mainstream society
(Güngör, 2007 ; Phalet & Güngör, 2009 ; Phalet & Swyngedouw, 2004 ). As a result,
immigrants adapt well psychologically but are challenged in relation to sociocul-
tural adaptation (Güngör, 2007 ; Vedder & Virta, 2005 ).
Gendered Acculturation Conditions, Orientations,
and Outcomes
Gendered Acculturation Conditions : Migration tends to jeopardize the traditional
family structure, which in immigrant families is marked by strict division of labor
and gender-role hierarchy. This threat may spring from the diminished socioeconomic
status of men in a new country, greater opportunities for women to participate in the
workforce outside the household, and increased exposure of children to mainstream
cultures that are often organized around ideals of gender equality (e.g., Donato,
Gabaccia, Holdaway, Manalansan, & Pessar, 2006 ; Hondagneu-Sotelo, 2001 ;
Suárez-Orozco & Suárez-Orozco, 2001 ; Zhou, 2000 ). A common response among
immigrant parents is to assert male authority so as to restore hierarchical family and
gender relations (Espin, 1999 ). In a cross-cultural study, Turkish migrant families in
Belgium, as compared with the adolescents of native families in their country of
origin, perceived greater (paternal) control coupled with high parental warmth
(Güngör, 2008 ). This parenting pattern corresponds to what Baumrind ( 1989 )
termed traditional parenting. Furthermore, adolescents of Turkish immigrants rated
their fathers as more controlling than did their peers in Turkey, suggesting accentua-
tion rather than attenuation of traditional parenting in migration. Similarly, in their
analysis of intergenerational transmission of normative collectivism (e.g., fi lial obli-
gations and deference to authority) in Turkish immigrant families in the Netherlands
and Germany, Phalet and Schönpfl ug ( 2001a ) reported relatively enhanced parental
achievement aspirations for and conformity pressure on sons. According to the
researchers, this fi nding suggests continuity in traditional family structure and val-
ues, as sons are considered future caregivers of their aged parents in traditional
Turkish families.
At the same time, boys are more likely to be discriminated against and more
vulnerable to negative peer pressure (Suárez-Orozco & Qin, 2006 ). In general,
immigrant boys experience more frequent discrimination from the majority society
than do girls. In a study of Turkish and Vietnamese adolescents in 13 countries,
including Western European countries, the United States, Canada, and Australia,
Berry et al. ( 2006 ) report greater perception of discrimination among boys than
girls. Similar fi ndings are obtained for second-generation youth from various cul-
tural backgrounds in Western Europe (e.g., Oppedal, Røysamb, & Heyerdahl, 2005 ).
Gendered Acculturation Orientations : First-generation women are seen as carriers and
gatekeepers of their heritage culture, mainly because of their more limited connection
to the wider society beyond the home (Ward, Bochner, & Furnham,
2001 ). As women
D. Güngör and M.H. Bornstein
acquire understanding of the state policies surrounding education, welfare, and
health care in the receiving society and become skilled in the social domain, they
appear to embrace egalitarian attitudes toward gender roles of the Western receiving
societies more readily than men (Hojat et al., 2000 ; Phinney & Flores, 2002 ; Valentine
& Mosley, 2000 ). This acculturative shift toward the receiving culture, and resultant
gender gap, is particularly salient in the second generation of immigrants. For exam-
ple, among Vietnamese Australians (Rosenthal, Ranieri, & Klimidis, 1996 ) and
Chinese university students in Canada (Tang & Dion, 1999 ), boys are more similar
to their parents in terms of normative collectivism and traditionalism than are girls.
Similarly, although both Turkish fathers and mothers in Germany tend to somewhat
disagree with conservative gender-role values in similar degrees, daughters are more
egalitarian than their mothers and their male peers and sons are not more egalitarian
than their fathers (Idema & Phalet, 2007 ).
Gendered acculturation is related to how male and female adolescents negotiate
between their commitments to their heritage and mainstream cultures. In general,
girls are more likely to show biculturalism in the sense of differentiating their heri-
tage and mainstream cultures clearly and combine them more easily than boys; boys
tend to show more undifferentiated pattern in their acculturation orientations, sup-
posedly refl ecting internal confl ict in their multiple commitments or identity search
(Berry et al., 2006 ). In a study of Muslim-American adolescents who originated
from South Asian, Arab, and Middle East countries, Sirin and Fine ( 2007 ) asked
their participants to draw a “map” of their multiple identities. The identity maps of
most boys were “fractured,” suggesting confl ictual commitments to Muslim and
American identities. Girls identity maps, however, revealed a much more fl uid
movement between their Muslim and US identities. Thus, acculturative change
toward the mainstream culture is more evident among girls than among boys.
Gendered Acculturation Outcomes : One robust yet paradoxical fi nding in the adap-
tation literature is that, although boys perceive greater discrimination than girls,
boys adapt psychologically as well as or better than do girls, particularly when
psychological adaptation is measured in terms of low levels of stress and sympto-
mology (e.g., depression or anxiety). Most often, internalization of psychological
problems is a feminine concern, whereas boys tend to externalize more and thus
manifest their problems in the social sphere (Suárez-Orozco & Qin, 2006 ). In Berry
et al. ( 2006 ), Turkish and Vietnamese second-generation immigrant boys in 13
countries show better psychological adaptation than do girls, but girls adapt socio-
culturally better than do boys. Oppedal and her colleagues ( 2005 ) examined self-
reported social competence in ethnic and host contexts (e.g., making same-ethnic
friends easily) and psychiatric problems among foreign-born fi rst- and local-born
second- generation adolescents across a variety of immigrant groups. First-
generation girls and second-generation boys had greater emotional, conduct, and
peer problems. At the same time, a signifi cant increase in host competence and
decrease in perceived discrimination from the fi rst to the second generation is
observed, but only among girls. Boys, in contrast, were higher on competence in
their ethnic context. Given these differences between fi rst- and second-generation
11 Acculturation and Adaptation in Immigrant Adolescents in Belgium
immigrant adolescents in different aspects of acculturation and adaptation, and the
trend toward less optimal adaptation from middle to late adolescence (Berry et al.,
2006 ), whether adaptation in different domains shows parallel age trends in per-
ceived discrimination and acculturation orientations is still unclear.
In light of the gender- and age-related patterns of acculturation, adolescent boys
in Turkish migrant families might differ in their acculturation from adolescent girls.
Specifi cally, boys may perceive greater discrimination at the personal and group
levels, show stronger orientation toward their heritage culture in private and public
domains, and better adapt psychologically but more poorly adapt socioculturally
than girls. These gender differences are likely to be more salient in older than
younger adolescents, which can be examined by distinguishing between middle and
late adolescence.
A Study of Acculturation in Adolescent Girls and Boys
Here we elaborate on the results of a previous study (Güngör & Bornstein, 2009 ).
Altogether, 199 Turkish Belgians (including 96 girls) in Flanders, the Dutch-
speaking part of Belgium, were approached in their schools or in neighborhoods
where the concentration of Turkish labor migrant families is high. They were all
born in Belgium (93 %) or migrated to Belgium before 13 years of age and were
from families in which at least one parent was born in Turkey. Most attended either
vocational secondary schools where they acquire skills to practice a profession
afterward or secondary schools that prepare students for higher technical education.
Only a small minority followed classes of general secondary education where stu-
dents are prepared for higher education at a university. The rate of class retention
was high; 63 % of adolescents repeated a grade at least once. Most mothers had
primary school education, and most fathers had elementary school education. The
majority of the mothers (51 %) were reported as never having worked, whereas
44 % worked as unskilled and only 4 % as skilled laborers. Almost all fathers were
reported by adolescents as working or having worked as either unskilled (83 %) or
skilled laborers (14 %). We assessed self-reported language profi ciency in the main-
stream language by asking adolescents to indicate on a 4-point scale how well they
think they speak Dutch (1 = not good at all , 4 = very good ). Although the average
profi ciency was high for all groups (above 3 on a 4-point scale), small gender and
age differences emerged, F (1,190) = 4.18, 2.02, p < 0.05, η p 2 = 0.02, 0.01, respec-
tively. Girls reported greater profi ciency than did boys ( M s = 3.48, 3.33, SDs = 0.52,
0.51, respectively), and older adolescents reported greater profi ciency than younger
adolescents ( M s = 3.44, 3.34, SDs = 0.52, 0.50, respectively).
Our division of adolescents into middle (14–17 years) and late adolescence (18–20)
resulted in four groups: younger adolescent girls ( n = 39, M = 16.05 years of age,
SD = 1.23), older adolescent girls ( n = 57, M = 18.81 years, SD = 0.74), younger ado-
lescent boys ( n = 37, M = 15.89 years, SD = 1.17), and older adolescent boys ( n = 66,
M = 19.00 years, SD = 0.78). We measured acculturation conditions, orientations,
D. Güngör and M.H. Bornstein
and outcomes in these adolescents. To understand the acculturation conditions of
Turkish Belgian adolescents, we collected data about their perceptions of discrimi-
nation on the part of the majority society. Personal experience with discrimination
(personal discrimination) was measured with seven items asking the frequency of
hostility or unfair treatment toward them in public places, such as in the street, cafes
or restaurants, and city hall. We assessed adolescents perceptions of discrimination
against their ethnic group (group discrimination) by asking the adolescents if they
think that Turks in Belgium experience hostility or unfair treatment in seven differ-
ent situations, including school, workplaces or when looking for a job, in the street,
or when using public transportation. Adolescents provided answers on 5-point
scales where 1 = never , 5 = frequently . The internal reliabilities of our scales were
good (Cronbachs alphas = 0.84 for personal discrimination and 0.87 for group
We assessed domain-specifi c acculturation orientations by single-item measures
originally devised by Phalet and Swyngedouw ( 2004 ). Adolescents responded on
5-point scales (1 = not important at all , 5 = extremely important ) to indicate how
important it was to them that Turks in Belgium maintain their heritage culture in
their family life (private culture maintenance) and outside the family at work or in
school (public culture maintenance) and how important it was to them that Turks in
Belgium adapt to the mainstream culture in their family life (private culture adop-
tion) and outside the family at work and in school (public culture adoption).
To assess the level of psychological adaptation, we asked adolescents about their
global self-esteem and frequency of symptomology. Rosenbergs ( 1965 ) 10-item
Self-Esteem Inventory included statements such as “I feel that I have a number of
good qualities.” (1 = fully disagree , 5 = fully agree ). For the frequency of symptomo-
logy, we used the average score of the somatization, depression, and hostility sub-
scales of the Brief Symptom Inventory developed by Derogatis ( 1993 ) and adapted
to Dutch by de Beurs ( 2004 ). Adolescents reported on 5-point scales ranging from
not at all (1) to extremely (5) for the frequencies of somatization (7 items, e.g.,
“fainting and dizziness”), depression (6 items, e.g., “feeling lonely”), and hostility,
because it refers to irritation and anger (5 items, “feeling angry and frustrated eas-
ily”) during the previous week. Cronbachs alphas for each scale were also good:
0.84 for self-esteem and 0.88 for symptomology.
Finally, we used a 17-item index of sociocultural adaptation based on Ward and
Kennedys ( 1999 ) conceptualization and measurement of immigrant adaptation.
We presented adolescents some situations they might face in different domains of
life (e.g., dealing with people in authority, making Belgian friends) and asked them
to indicate the degree of diffi culty they experience in these domains by using a
scale ranging from no diffi culty (1) to extreme diffi culty (5). Items were re-coded
so that high scores refl ected better sociocultural adaptation (Cronbachs
alpha = 0.90).
Adolescents reported relatively low levels of personal and group discrimination
(see Table 11.1 ). Heritage cultural maintenance in private life and adoption of main-
stream culture in public life were the most endorsed acculturation orientations.
Both psychological and sociocultural adaptations were relatively high. Partial eta
11 Acculturation and Adaptation in Immigrant Adolescents in Belgium
squared ( η 2 p ) was used as an effect size, where η 2 p 0.01 is interpreted as a small
effect, η 2 p 0.06 as a medium effect, and η 2 p 0.14 as a large effect (Cohen, 1988 ).
To examine whether girls and boys diverge in their experience of acculturation
conditions, orientations, and adaptation from middle to late adolescence, we tested
gender and age differences fi rst by a series of 2 (Gender) × 2 (Age groups) multivariate
analyses of variance with groups of four acculturation orientations, two value orienta-
tions, and three adaptation variables, followed by univariate F -tests. Given that the
correlation between personal and group discrimination was high ( r = 0.53), we exam-
ined the effects on these variables individually using 2 (Gender) × 2 (Age groups)
analyses of variance to eliminate variable redundancy and to increase statistical power.
For acculturation conditions, boys reported experiencing more frequent personal
discrimination than did girls, M s = 2.33, 1.75, SDs = 0.89, 0.90, respectively,
F (1,185) = 15.41, p < 0.01, η p 2 = 0.08. Older boys perceived more frequent
discrimination against their ethnic group than did younger boys, whereas the level
of perceived group discrimination did not change with age among girls,
F (1,185) = 4.16, p < 0.05, η p 2 = 0.02. Hence, our hypothesis regarding gender
differences in discrimination was confi rmed.
Table 11.1 Descriptive statistics and age and gender differences for variables in the study
Girls Boys
( n = 39)
( n = 57)
(n = 37)
( n = 66)
M ( SD ) M (SD ) M ( SD ) M (SD ) F (df) η p 2
Perceived discrimination
Personal 1.74 (.72) 1.75 (.88) 2.01 (.78) 2.52 (1.01) 3.48 (1,185) .02
Group level 2.64 (.92) 2.65 (.88) 2.30 (.78) 2.84 (.91) 4.16* (1,185) .02
Private culture
4.13 (.84) 4.35 (.77) 4.32 (.75) 4.58 (.68) 0.14 (1,190) .01
Public culture
3.68 (.81) 3.30 (1.18) 3.60 (1.17) 3.60 (1.06) 1.60 (1,190) .01
Private culture
2.59 (1.26) 3.28 (1.88) 3.03 (1.13) 2.71 (1.32) 7.94* (1,190) .04
Public culture
3.50 (.95) 4.18 (1.88) 3.69 (.95) 3.71 (1.14) 5.70* (1,190) .03
Psychological adaptation
Self-esteem 3.63 (0.65) 4.08 (.54) 3.75 (.57) 3.72 (.74) 6.41* (1,172) .04
Symptomology 2.24 (0.73) 2.06 (.52) 1.90 (.49) 2.16 (71) 5.06* (1,172) .03
4.01 (.53) 4.12 (.55) 3.89 (.57) 3.76 (76) 1.60 (1,172) .01
Note . All variables were assessed on scales from 1 to 5, with higher scores refl ecting higher degrees
of the measured attribute. Only the results of univariate F-tests for Gender by Age interaction that
followed 2 (Gender) × 2 (Age groups) MANOVAs are reported. For perceived person- and group-
level discrimination, group differences were tested with individual univariate tests
* p < 0.05
D. Güngör and M.H. Bornstein
For acculturation orientations, gender differences were particularly evident in
the levels of culture adoption in private and public domains in older adolescence. As
expected, older adolescent girls reported more positive orientation toward adopting
mainstream culture in the private domain than did younger adolescent girls or older
adolescent boys. In addition, older adolescent girls assigned greater importance to
adoption of Belgian culture in public than did younger adolescent girls and older
adolescent boys, F (4, 187) = 2.76, p < 0.05, multi η p 2 = 0.06. Unexpectedly, girls and
boys were alike in their high level of heritage culture maintenance during adoles-
cence. However, older adolescents assigned more importance to maintaining heri-
tage culture in private life but adopting the mainstream culture in public life than did
younger adolescents ( M s = 4.48 and 4.23, SDs = 0.73 and 0.80, respectively, F (4,
187) = 3.70, p < 0.05, multi η p 2 = 0.05, for heritage culture maintenance; M s = 3.93
and 3.59, SDs = 1.01 and 0.95, respectively, F s (1, 190) = 5.25, respectively,
p < 0.05, η p 2 = 0.03, for mainstream culture adoption).
For acculturation outcomes, the multivariate analyses of self-esteem and symp-
tomology (as indicators of psychological adaptation) and sociocultural adaptation
suggested that gender was a medium-sized factor affecting acculturation outcomes,
with a main effect, F (3, 170) = 4.00, p < 0.05, multi η p 2 = 0.07, and interaction with
age, F (3, 170) = 3.15, p < 0.05, multi η p 2 = 0.05. Regarding psychological adaptation,
expectedly, younger adolescent girls reported more frequent symptomology than
did younger adolescent boys. However, girls and boys did not differ in symptomol-
ogy at older ages. Furthermore, older adolescent girls had higher self-esteem than
did older adolescent boys and younger adolescent girls. As expected too, girls
reported better sociocultural adaptation than did boys ( M s = 4.08, 3.83, SDs = 0.54,
0.69, respectively), F (1, 172) = 6.08, p < 0.05, η p 2 = 0.04.
Gender and Development in Acculturation
The main aim of our study was to determine how gender and development, two
critical but overlooked factors in the fi eld of psychological acculturation, interact
to affect bicultural development in acculturating adolescents (Bornstein & Cote,
2006 ; Suárez-Orozco & Qin, 2006 ). We examined how adolescents experiences
of discrimination, acculturation orientations, and adaptation outcomes are pat-
terned in middle (14–17 years) and late adolescence (18–20 years) in a sample of
girls and boys from Turkish immigrant families in Belgium. Gender and devel-
opmental pathways in the study pointed to a signifi cant gender gap in late
Overall, we found that girls and boys distinguished between private and public
spheres and favored heritage culture maintenance in their private lives while endors-
ing adoption of mainstream culture in their public lives. This strategy of partition in
adolescents with Turkish origin has been found in previous research (Phalet &
Hagendoorn, 1996 ; Phalet & Swyngedouw, 2004 ) where it has been argued to support
optimal adaptation by meeting the differential demands of family and wider society.
11 Acculturation and Adaptation in Immigrant Adolescents in Belgium
However, we detected a compelling contrast in acculturation orientations when gender
and development were taken into account. Girls and boys did not differ in their heri-
tage culture orientations in their private and public lives, but older girls assigned
greater importance to adoption of mainstream culture in both private and public
domains than older boys. In addition, older girls were reportedly more profi cient in
the mainstream language. Furthermore, regardless of age, adolescent girls showed
better sociocultural adaptation than adolescent boys. Overall, older adolescent girls
were more Belgian in their private and public stances than were older adolescent boys.
Turkish Belgian boys reported more personal experiences with discrimination
than did immigrant Turkish girls. Moreover, older boys believed more strongly than
did older girls that Turks as a group were discriminated against. Although they
experienced and perceived greater discrimination, boys did not report higher psy-
chological distress (fainting and dizziness, feeling loneliness, anger and frustration)
than girls, confi rming past studies (e.g., Liebkind & Jasinskaja-Lahti, 2000 ). The
pattern of greater perceived discrimination, less favorable attitudes for adopting the
mainstream culture, and poorer sociocultural adaptation, along with equal psycho-
logical adaptation in boys as compared with girls in late adolescence, point to more
defensive coping and more challenging process of identity development in accultur-
ating boys. This contention is supported by other studies that have documented
stronger negative relations between perceived discrimination and sociocultural
adaptation on the one hand, and positive relations between ethnic orientation and
psychological adaptation on the other hand, in Turkish- and Vietnamese-origin boys
(Berry et al., 2006 ) while these relations were weaker in girls. Nevertheless, boys
reported lower self-esteem than girls. Perhaps during their adjustment, boys turn to
their heritage culture and use social supports from their ethnic community to cope
with stress on a daily basis (Güngör, 2007 ), but the impact of discrimination may be
more detrimental to boys global self-esteem. Suárez-Orozco ( 2000 ) posited that
when immigrant adolescents are exposed constantly to distorted images and nega-
tive stereotypes from majority society, they may internalize these negative refl ec-
tions, which in turn endanger their achievement or maintenance of a positive sense
of self-worth. Our fi ndings suggest that, in the midst of divergent expectations from
home and host cultures, and as more frequent targets of discrimination, adolescent
boys of immigrant families seems to be more susceptible to developing a rigid yet
fragile, rather than a fl exible, bicultural identity with age.
We studied Turkish Belgian adolescents, who represent one of largest minority
groups with a collectivist background across individualist Western European societ-
ies. Future comparative developmental studies on culturally less dissimilar (e.g.,
those sharing same religious background with the mainstream society) and less
socially disadvantaged minority groups would allow us to see to what extent the
gender differences we report here refl ect broader trends in adolescents in accultura-
tion. In case of less visible minorities or in countries where multiculturalism pre-
vails, acculturation context may present more optimal conditions for male and
female immigrants to bridge their old and new worlds in a more fl exible and com-
patible way. Our study demonstrates that combining a gender perspective with a
developmental and multidimensional approach to acculturation brings light onto the
social affordances and constraints of bicultural development in immigration.
D. Güngör and M.H. Bornstein
When the mainstream society offers a variety of options for girls and boys, girls
seem to more readily embrace mainstream culture while they continue to maintain
their heritage culture. Although boys and girls endorse mainstream culture earlier in
adolescence similarly, boys negative intercultural encounters appear to undermine
their biculturalism and feelings of self-worth as they grow up. These fi ndings raise
more critical questions: What are the consequences of divergent gendered pathways
of acculturating girls and boys for their current and future relationships with one
another, with their families, peers, and the wider society?
Acknowledgments Supported by Intramural Research Program of the NIH, NICHD, and a
research grant by Migration Research Program at Koç University (MiReKoc), Turkey. Address
correspondence to Derya Güngör, Centre for Social and Cultural Psychology, K. U. Leuven,
Tiensestraat 102, B-3000, Leuven, Belgium. Email:
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D. Güngör and M.H. Bornstein
... Interestingly, few studies in the field have looked into how acculturation processes of university students are linked to and shaped by the meanings individuals attribute to these processes, their experiences of discrimination, and the way contact among members of dominant and nondominant ethnic groups develops. These acculturation expectations, experiences and perspectives vary across gender, religious group, migrant background, and ethnicity (Güngör & Bornstein, 2013;. For instance, the acculturation experiences of Muslim women in Western Europe are likely to differ from Muslim men based on the gendered acculturation expectations of dominant society (Akkerman & Hagelund, 2007). ...
... Research has also established that individual interpretations of the term integration differ depending on the context and an individual's social position (i.e., as a member of the ethnic majority group or an ethnic minority one) (Anjum et al., 2018;Celeste et al., 2014;Van Praag et al., 2016). Gender is another factor that can influence the acculturation processes of female students who are often exposed to the differential norms and expectations in wider society than male students (Güngör & Bornstein, 2013). For instance, integration policies in Western Europe often target Muslim women by portraying them as unintegrated and in need of emancipation (Akkerman & Hagelund, 2007;Phillips & Saharso, 2008). ...
... Overall, while all participants had some things in common -namely, full-time university students of either Turkish or Belgian descent-building in diversity by selecting students at various stages of their education and across different study fields maximised the range of perspectives and experiences brought into the analysis. Furthermore, based on the overrepresentation of female students in the sample, I engaged in a deeper investigation of their perspectives and experiences, as gender could have implications on the acculturation attitudes of individuals (Güngör & Bornstein, 2013;. ...
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This PhD dissertation examines the experiences of Turkish and Belgian descent students at a Flemish university, by studying their meanings of acculturation, dynamics of exclusion, and students’ relations with peers on the university campus. Through focusing on how students’ acculturation processes play out in a higher education setting, it ultimately seeks to understand the role of institutional practices in shaping students’ intercultural experiences. The first aim of this study is to address how acculturation is viewed as a responsibility only for people with a migration background. Even though acculturation is defined as a mutual adaptation process, the findings unpack how Belgian descent students expect ethnic minorities to demonstrate their cultural adaptation and initiate contact with them. Moreover, combining aspects of ethnic culture and Flemish culture is perceived to be conflictual by ethnic majority students even though ethnic minority students belong to and combine these two cultures. Based on the findings, this study argues that such one-sided acculturation expectations perpetuate the unequal power relations between members of dominant and non-dominant groups. The second aim of the research is to uncover Turkish origin students’ experiences of discrimination by peers and teachers across the secondary school and higher education. By addressing how open and subtle forms of interpersonal and institutional discrimination are reproduced in education, the study seeks to offer insights into patterns of exclusion. The findings underscore that institutional practices and systems tend to disadvantage students from ethnic minority groups, albeit in nonaggressive ways. Similarly, Turkish origin students experience various forms of exclusion and subtle discrimination by peers. These discrimination experiences seem to negatively impact Turkish Belgian students, throwing their belonging at the university into question. This study also discusses how Turkish Belgian and Belgian descent students experience contact in different ways in order to unpack the various factors and processes that shape students’ relations with peers. Factors such as ethnic and social homophily, social exclusion, and the distinct meeting opportunities afforded by the relatively more ethnically diverse university setting explain same-ethnic and interethnic friendship preferences among Turkish origin students. For Belgian descent students, in contrast, open and meaningful relations with ethnic and religious minority students seem limited due to intergroup anxiety, negative assumptions, and stereotypes. Furthermore, the implications of interethnic friendships on students’ attitudes tend to differ depending on their group status. Finally, the findings indicate that a range of institutional policies and practices are central to the experience of acculturation on campus, often acting to hinder successful adaptation by excluding ethnic minority students. As such, following suggestions for policy and practice are crucial to providing equitable experiences to all students in an inclusive educational environment. First, the findings highlight the need for a greater focus on equity. In particular, both institutional policies/practices and patterns of interpersonal contact are failing ethnic minority students, who experience discrimination on both counts. This limits the chances of meaningful intergroup outcomes on university campuses. Second, the findings show that encouraging intergroup contact requires that experiences of discrimination among ethnic minority students be addressed and intergroup knowledge, sensitivity, and empathy within the ethnic majority promoted. Third, all university and college policies must reflect and advance full inclusion so that students’ distinct interests and cultural backgrounds are recognized and valued. Suggested steps include promoting diversity in the student body and staff, providing students with spaces for cultural learning and expression, incorporating diverse experiences and views in the curriculum, and putting greater emphasis on fighting discrimination.
... In addition to the general differences in practices that can occur between generations, there also seem to be certain underlying Turkish beliefs and practices as outlined above, that influence the practices and experiences of both mothers and grandmothers. Other studies have also found that people with a Turkish background often maintain certain traditional parenting practices from their culture of origin [64][65][66]. Our study indicates that these socio-cultural beliefs and practices may be a stronger frame of reference for grandmothers than for mothers. ...
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Background Given the importance of the first 1000 days of a child’s life in terms of laying the foundations for healthy growth and development, parents are a logical target group for supporting health-related practices with regard to young children. However, little attention is paid to the influence of the wider social community on the health and development of young children during this crucial period. This includes grandmothers, who often have a significant influence on health-related practices of their grandchildren. The aim of this study was therefore to explore the influence of grandmothers on health related practices of their grandchildren during the first 1000 days, from the perspectives of both grandmothers and mothers with a Turkish background. Method This qualitative study in the Netherlands collected data during focus group discussions with grandmothers ( N = 3), interviews with grandmothers ( N = 18) and interviews with mothers ( N = 16), all with a Turkish background. Data was collected in the period between June 2019 and April 2021 and analysed using a thematic content analysis. Results The influence of grandmothers and the wider social community on health related practices during the first 1000 days of a child’s life is substantial and self-evident. The support of grandmothers is often rooted in various socio-cultural norms and practices. The mothers of young children can experience the guidance and pressure they receive from grandmothers and the wider social community as quite stressful. Conflicting views and practices tend to arise between grandmothers and mothers when a grandmother babysits. Both mothers and grandmothers often find it difficult to discuss these differences openly, for fear this might lead to a family conflict. Conclusion This study shows that grandmothers and the wider social community play an influential role in supporting a healthy first 1000 days of a child’s life. The strong involvement of grandmothers may lead to tension between the mothers and grandmothers when their ideas about healthy practices are not in agreement and may lead to unhealthy practices. In targeting this wider social community, it is important to consider the various socio-cultural factors that underlie the advice, support, practices and beliefs of the individuals involved.
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Within ethnolinguistic minority families, parents and children often differ in language usage and proficiencies. In this study, we investigate the role of intergenerational language differences in cultivating and/or complicating family relations and how aspects of gender may moderate these relationships. Guided by the Family Language Policy framework, we expand the concept of intergenerational language differences beyond language use and proficiencies to incorporate language attitudes and language management indicators. Binomial logistic regression models were used to estimate the likelihood of children (N=823; aged 10 to 12) reporting high levels of family friction and cohesion. Our results show that parent-child differences in language use and proficiencies are associated with family friction but not with cohesion whereas differences in language attitudes impact family cohesion. Brokering has a significant negative impact on perceptions of family relations while language rules are not related to conflict or cohesion. Our interaction analyses suggest that the influence of parent-child language differences on family relations is more pronounced for the father-daughter dyad.
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In modern psychology, mindfulness is an important resource for psychological well-being and intergroup relations, but its role in intercultural communication effectiveness has not been sufficiently studied. This research aims to identify the interrelationship between interpersonal mindfulness, intergroup anxiety, and intercultural communication effectiveness among international students. The sample includes 337 (Mage = 22.93, SD = 3.11) international students (41.5% of females) from different countries studying in Russian Universities. Interpersonal mindfulness was measured using the Interpersonal Mindfulness Scale, Intergroup anxiety using ten items adapted from Stephan and Stephan and used in Gudykunst and Nishida, and Intercultural communication effectiveness using the eight items adapted from Gudykunst’s Perceived Effectiveness of Communication measure. Descriptive analysis, correlations, and mediation analyses were used to process the data. The research findings showed that interpersonal mindfulness has both a direct effect on intercultural communication effectiveness and a mediation effect on intercultural communication effectiveness through intergroup anxiety among the international students.
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You have to integrate to belong here!": Acculturation and exclusion among Turkish and Belgian descent students on a university campus While substantial attention has been given to the integration processes of ethnic minority groups across Western Europe, few studies have focused on how students in higher education engage with and make sense of these processes. We conducted qualitative semi-structured interviews with 25 female university students of Turkish and Belgian descent to shed light on students' acculturation meanings. Our analyses show that both student groups reiterate the mainstream interpretation of integration as an adaptation process targeting immigrants and their descendants, although their views differ particularly as they relate to the dimension of cultural maintenance. Students' accounts show how sweeping demands for integration are putting pressure on female ethnic minorities, restricting their freedom to negotiate their identities and making them vulnerable to exclusion and marginalisation. The acculturation attitudes of ethnic majority students, however, remain exclusionary as they fail to consider their own role in acculturation and enjoy few opportunities to build meaningful relations across ethnic groups on the university campus. We discuss the role of higher education context in reproducing such exclusionary mainstream integration discourses and delve further into the implications of gender in shaping students' acculturation meanings and experiences.
The present study examined the impact of COVID-19-related racial discrimination on Chinese American adolescents (N = 213; M age = 13.95 years, SD = 2.35; 49% girls) at the intersection of race and gender. We explored: (a) subgroups of adolescents based on ethnic identity, bicultural identity integration, and behavioral acculturation, (b) their demographic correlates, and (c) whether the association between racial discrimination and anxiety varied across subgroups and gender. Latent profile analysis identified three profiles: bicultural, marginalized, and separated. Bicultural and marginalized adolescents were vulnerable to direct and vicarious racial discrimination, respectively. Moreover, bicultural and marginalized boys and separated girls were more negatively affected by COVID-19-related racial discrimination. The findings highlight the utility of person-centered and intersectional approaches in understanding Chinese American adolescents’ experiences of racial discrimination.
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Although numerous studies have documented the associations between perceived discrimination, acculturation and well-being in immigrants, far fewer have examined these associations in adolescent immigrants in the context of forced displacement. The focus of this study was to refine our understanding of the link between acculturation, perceived discrimination and subjective well-being in understudied forcibly displaced Syrian adolescents residing in Turkey. The data were collected from 181 Syrian adolescents (53.19% girls) aged between 10 and 16 years (Mage = 13, SD = 1.53). The participants completed measures of acculturation, perceived discrimination, positive affect and negative affect alongside demographic variables. The results indicated that boys reported more experience of positive affect while girls reported more experience of negative affect. Younger adolescents reported greater positive affect, higher heritage acculturation and lesser negative affect. Adolescents who had higher host acculturation and experienced low perceived discrimination had a greater positive, whereas adolescents who experienced perceived discrimination had a greater negative affect. Host acculturation and perceived discrimination significantly contributed to the variance in explaining positive and negative affect over and above the age and gender. The results elucidate our understanding in terms of acculturation and perceived discrimination that significantly contribute to subjective well-being in the context of forcibly displaced Syrian adolescents.
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Latin-American immigration has transformed Chilean schools into new multicultural scenarios. Studies about intergroup dynamics among students from different cultural backgrounds and their psychological consequences are still limited in south–south migration contexts. Literature has suggested that intergroup relations influence students’ satisfaction with school, and they could be improved by the development of competences to cope with cultural differences. This study aims to verify if cultural self-efficacy and its dimensions mediated the influence of prejudice on satisfaction with school, in a sample composed by N = 690 Chilean and Latin-American immigrant secondary students. Results showed that cultural self-efficacy reduced the effect of prejudice in satisfaction with school, in the cases of both immigrant and Chilean students. The dimensions of cultural self-efficacy in processing information from other cultures and mixing with different others make the difference. Findings’ contributions for the understanding of adolescents’ intergroup relations and psychosocial interventions at school are discussed.
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We examined how perceived acculturation expectations from parents and school, and ethnic discrimination predicted early adolescents' heritage and mainstream acculturation orientations at home (private domain) and in school (public domain) one year later. We surveyed 263 early adolescents of immigrant background in Germany (M age = 10.44 years, 60% female). Multi-group path analyses revealed that perceived acculturation expectations and ethnic discrimination were more strongly related to adolescents' private than public acculturation orientations. Parental heritage expectations were the strongest predictor of adolescents' acculturation orientations. Boys were more susceptible than girls to ethnic discrimination and acculturation expectations in school, which affected their private and public acculturation orientations. Results highlight the importance of integrating domain-specific and gendered experiences when analyzing adolescents' acculturative development.
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This study investigated how peers can contribute to cultural minority students’ cultural identity, life satisfaction, and school values (school importance, utility, and intrinsic values) by talking about cultural values, beliefs, and behaviours associated with heritage and mainstream culture (peer cultural socialisation). We further distinguished between heritage and mainstream identity as two separate dimensions of cultural identity. Analyses were based on self-reports of 662 students of the first, second, and third migrant generation in Germany (Mean age = 14.75 years, 51% female). Path analyses revealed that talking about heritage culture with friends was positively related to heritage identity. Talking about mainstream culture with friends was negatively associated with heritage identity, but positively with mainstream identity as well as school values. Both dimensions of cultural identity related to higher life satisfaction and more positive school values. As expected, heritage and mainstream identity mediated the link between peer cultural socialisation and adjustment outcomes. Findings highlight the potential of peers as socialisation agents to help promote cultural belonging as well as positive adjustment of cultural minority youth in the school context.
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In contributing to this volume in honor of Çiğdem Kağıtçıbaşı, we are acknowledging our indebtedness to her. Her seminal research and leading role as a cross-cultural psychologist have profoundly influenced our own involvement in cross-cultural psychology – and that of others working with us. Since our first meeting, when I conducted my Ph.D. research in Turkey under her supervision, I have tried to live up to her advice: make sense of what your data are telling you. What my data were telling me at the time was that achievement motivation for the Turkish participants in my research was a WE-thing rather than a ME-thing, as mainstream motivational literature would have it. Having started my research career at a time when cross-cultural psychology was virtually nonexistent in most psychology departments in Europe, there is another insight that I owe to her inspiring example. Good research, and in particular good cross-cultural research, is a WE-thing too. It is a joint endeavor, which connects researchers and research ideas across cultures, genders, and generations. The cross-cultural studies discussed in this chapter are no exception to this rule. Following in her footsteps, we feel fortunate to be part of the transmission of this “culture of relatedness” in cross-cultural research to future generations of psychologists. The cross-cultural study of the family, as exemplified by Kağıtçıbaşı’s (1989, 1996) seminal work, is crucial for our understanding of acculturative change in the context of international migration.