Psychological Impact of Biculturalism: Evidence and Theory

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A vital step in the development of an equal partnership for minorities in the academic, social, and economic life of the United States involves moving away from assumptions of the linear model of cultural acquisition. In this article we review the literature on the psychological impact of being bicultural. Assimilation, acculturation, alternation, multicultural, and fusion models that have been used to describe the psychological processes, social experiences, and individual challenges and obstacles of being bicultural are reviewed and summarized for their contributions and implications for investigations of the psychological impact of biculturalism. Emphasis is given to the alternation model, which posits that an individual is able to gain competence within 2 cultures without losing his or her cultural identity or having to choose one culture over the other. Finally, a hypothetical model outlining the dimensions of bicultural competence is presented.

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