The Role of Enculturation and Acculturation in Asian and European American College Students’ Daily Social Stress and Support

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Abstract

The current study examined the effects of enculturation and mainstream American acculturation on Asian Americans’ and European Americans’ daily experiences of social stress and support. We hypothesized that Asian Americans with high levels of enculturation would experience less social stress and more social support. Participants included 56 Asian Americans and 38 European Americans (62 women, 32 men; average age = 20.06 years) who provided information about enculturation and acculturation at baseline. Using a daily diary methodology, participants were asked to report on daily experiences of social stress and support each night for 14 days. Hierarchical linear models revealed that, across all participants, enculturation predicted less social stress, and mainstream acculturation predicted more daily social support. Ethnicity also interacted with enculturation and acculturation to predict social stress and support, such that Asian Americans with a higher level of enculturation experienced less social stress, whereas the relationship between mainstream acculturation and increased positive social support was stronger for European Americans than Asian Americans. A deeper identification with one’s culture-of-origin may contribute to fewer stressful social experiences for Asian Americans, whereas a connection to mainstream culture may portend increased social support for European Americans. Findings highlight the necessity of examining the role of enculturation and acculturation in studies of ethnic/cultural differences in social experiences.

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