Rethinking the acculturation gap-distress theory among Asian Americans: Testing bidirectional indirect relations.Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2019; 89(6):627-639.AJ
The acculturation gap-distress theory postulates that parent-offspring acculturation mismatch precipitates greater intergenerational conflict in immigrant families, which in turn increases the risk for psychological problems among offspring. Whereas cross-sectional studies have shown support for these theory-informed relations, comparatively little is known about whether acculturation mismatch negatively affects psychological functioning, or whether offspring's psychological problems precipitate greater perceived acculturation mismatch via intergenerational cultural conflict. Furthermore, more research is needed to investigate how acculturation and family conflict affect Asian Americans transitioning into college and emerging adulthood. Across two measurement occasions, two cohorts of Asian American first-year college students (N = 555, Mage = 17.99, 56.0% women) completed survey questionnaires assessing their perception of parent-offspring acculturation discrepancies, acculturation-related intergenerational conflict, and internalizing and externalizing symptoms. For both sets of psychological functioning, gender invariant structural equation models testing the bidirectional relations demonstrated adequate fit for the data. In the case of externalizing symptoms, acculturation mismatch marginally significantly predicted subsequent intergenerational conflict, but acculturation mismatch did not predict externalizing symptoms via intergenerational cultural conflict. By contrast, offspring's internalizing and externalizing symptoms respectively predicted greater self-reported intergenerational cultural conflict, which in turn predicted perceived parent-offspring acculturation mismatch over time. These indirect relations suggested that both internalizing and externalizing symptoms indirectly contributed to greater acculturation mismatch through the presence of intergenerational cultural conflict, but data did not support the acculturation gap-distress theory. Theoretical and clinical implications as they pertain to Asian American emerging adults are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).