Immigrant Youth: Acculturation, Identity, and Adaptation

This paper reports some of the main findings from a large international study of the acculturation and adaptation of immigrant youth (aged 13 to 18 years) who are settled in 13 societies, as well as a sample of national youth. The study was guided by three core questions: how do immigrant youth deal with the process of acculturation; how well do they adapt; and are there important  relationships between how they acculturate and how well they adapt? Cluster analysis produced four distinct acculturation profiles: integration, ethnic, national, and diffuse. Factor analysis of five adaptation variables revealed two distinct forms of adaptation: psychological and sociocultural. There were  substantial relationships between how youth acculturate and how well they adapt: those with an integration profile had the best psychological and sociocultural adaptation outcomes, while those with a diffuse profile had the worst; in between, those with an ethnic profile had moderately good psychological adaptation but poorer sociocultural adaptation, while those with a national profile had moderately poor psychological adaptation, and slightly negative sociocultural adaptation. This pattern of results was largely replicated using structural equation modeling. Implications for the settlement of immigrant youth are clear: youth should be encouraged to retain both a sense of their own heritage cultural identity, while establishing close ties with the larger national society.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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