Cultural stressors and depressive symptoms: when is positive ethnic-racial affect protective for immigrant-origin emerging adults?

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Matthew Thibeault (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Gabriela Stein

Abstract: Although perceived ethnic discrimination and acculturative stress increase risk for depressive symptoms, less is known about factors that moderate the impact of these cultural challenges on psychological adjustment for first- and second-generation migrant-origin college students. Ethnic identity has been presumed to buffer the impact of cultural stressors on psychological adjustment, but studies have demonstrated mixed results. Because emerging adulthood is a relevant time in social identity development, it is important to clarify the role that ethnic identity plays during psychological adjustment when these individuals are faced with culturally based stress. This dissertation integrated acculturation theory and social identity theory to examine the conditions under which positive ethnic-racial affect served as a moderating factor between cultural stressors and depressive symptoms. It was hypothesized that the moderating impact of positive ethnic-racial affect would vary by other-group orientation, nativity status, and gender, in accordance with social identity theory and rejection sensitivity theory. A multicultural sample of 290 emerging adult students (aged 18-25) completed electronic self-report questionnaires on a college campus in the Southeastern United States. Results provided stronger support for social identity theory such that stronger positive ethnic-racial affect demonstrated inverse associations with depressive symptoms across the sample, with a notable buffering impact for women. Trend-level results demonstrated a protective effect against depressive symptoms when stronger positive ethnic-racial affect was paired with greater levels of other-group orientation. In contrast, males with stronger positive ethnic-racial affect demonstrated statistically significant increases in depressive symptoms as perceived ethnic discrimination increased, lending some support for rejection sensitivity theory. Implications for clinical practice and integrative collegiate programming are discussed.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2017
Acculturation, Depressive symptoms, Discrimination, Ethnic identity, Immigrant, Young adult
Minority college students $z United States $x Psychology
Immigrants $x Mental health $z United States
Immigrants $z United States $x Ethnic identity
Immigrants $z United States $x Social conditions
Immigrants $x Cultural assimilation $z United States
Race discrimination $z United States $x Psychological aspects
Acculturation $z United States $x Psychological aspects
Depression, Mental $x Social aspects $z United States
Stress (Psychology)

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