Situational variations in ethnic identity across immigration generations: Implications for acculturative change and cross‐cultural adaptation

Kimberly A. Noels, Richard Clément
Published Online:
14 Aug 2015
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 50 Issue 6

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This study examined whether the acculturation of ethnic identity is first evident in more public situations with greater opportunity for intercultural interaction and eventually penetrates more intimate situations. It also investigated whether situational variations in identity are associated with cross‐cultural adaptation. First‐generation (G1), second‐generation (G2) and mixed‐parentage second‐generation (G2.5) young adult Canadians (n = 137, n = 169, and n = 91, respectively) completed a questionnaire assessing their heritage and Canadian identities across four situational domains (family, friends, university and community), global heritage identity and cross‐cultural adaptation. Consistent with the acculturation penetration hypothesis, the results showed Canadian identity was stronger than heritage identity in public domains, but the converse was true in the family domain; moreover, the difference between the identities in the family domain was attenuated in later generations. Situational variability indicated better adaptation for the G1 cohort, but poorer adaptation for the G2.5 cohort. For the G2 cohort, facets of global identity moderated the relation, such that those with a weaker global identity experienced greater difficulties and hassles with greater identity variability but those with a stronger identity did not. These results are interpreted in light of potential interpersonal issues implied by situational variation for each generation cohort.

© 2015 International Union of Psychological Science