Acculturation processes and mental health of Asian Indian Women in the United States: A mixed-methods study

Anitha Joseph, Sharon Rae Jenkins, Brittney Wright, Bini Sebastian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Acculturation theories and research find that both new culture acquisition and heritage culture attachment are associated with positive outcomes. However, gender-related analyses are rare. In this mixed-method study of 73 Asian Indian American women who were first-or secondgeneration immigrants from Kerala, India, those classified as behaviorally bicultural, assimilated, separated, or marginalized did not differ significantly in well-being. Being older and married was related to higher self-esteem; unmarried women reported more Kerala attitudinal marginalization. With age, marital status, immigrant generation, and both cultural behavioral orientations controlled, Kerala attitudinal marginalization (but not Anglo attitudinal marginalization) correlated moderately with both lower self-esteem and more severe depressive symptoms. Content analysis of open-ended question data suggested associations among more intricate and multifaceted acculturation processes and psychological well-being via the rewards and challenges the women described. Attaining the "best of both worlds" that some mentioned meant selective adoption and rejection of facets of each culture: family connectedness and control, freedom and moral decline, opportunity, and discrimination. For these women, status-related characteristics (being younger and single representing lower status), discrimination experiences, and attitudinal rejection of their heritage culture (although it accords women lower status than men) had negative psychological outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-522
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Volume90
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Acculturation
  • Asian Indian
  • Marginality
  • Mental health
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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