A Cultural Psychological Approach to Acculturation
In the current research program, I further develop and empirically test a cultural psychological approach to acculturation. This approach centers on the notion of ‘cultural fit’ – i.e., the extent to which an individual’s pattern of psychological functioning is similar to the typical pattern of others in the socio-cultural context. I start from the cultural psychological insights that people are socially ‘wired’ to fit their socio-cultural context and that cultural fit bears positive consequences in terms of both well-being and social thriving. I then bring these insights into traditional acculturation psychology to argue that when people migrate to another socio-cultural context, not only their explicitly endorsed cultural attitudes and identities may change – as has been the focus of traditional acculturation research – but also the ways feel, think and act may change, such that immigrant minorities may come to fit their new/other socio-cultural context.
I spell out four research lines to empirically test this novel theory, thereby drawing on both my expertise and previously gathered preliminary evidence in the domain of emotion. Research line 1 makes use of cross-sectional studies to map the acculturation of a wider range of psychological processes (e.g., cognition, motivation, self-concept). Research line 2 employs two large scale studies that document the complex interplay between the acculturation of explicit domains (e.g., identity) and implicit domains (e.g., cognition) across time and different social contexts. Research line 3 consists of a series of longitudinal, interactive experimental studies that investigate the socialization processes that occur in intercultural interactions, and that may account for psychological acculturation and cultural fit. A final research line cuts across all other three to address the question how acculturation – in its complex, multi-faceted and context-dependent form – is associated with minorities’ well-being and educational outcomes.