Emotional Acculturation: Emotions as Gateways to Minority Inclusion
International migration has often been referred to as one of the major challenges of the 21st century. Numbers of immigrants have been increasing, but social integration of migrants and their children is lagging at the detriment of immigrant minorities themselves and often resulting in conflict within receiving societies. EmotionAcculturation investigates the role of emotions, as key processes of interaction, for immigrant minorities’ social inclusion, and their wellbeing. It builds on research showing that, in each culture, emotions are socialized to fit the most valued kinds of relationships, and that the prevalent emotions, therefore, vary across different cultures. I postulate that misfit of the emotions of immigrant minorities with the typical majority emotions compromises interactions, and that this will hamper their social integration, and therefore their opportunities in the larger society. I study how and when emotional acculturation forms an important gateway to the social inclusion and wellbeing of immigrant minority individuals. The grant is organized around three Objectives: to better understand 1) the nature of emotional acculturation, 2) its conditions, and 3) its outcomes. I adopt a multi-method approach, following large numbers of immigrant minority and majority participants over time, in their everyday lives, and in real-time interactions in the laboratory. The project will span two receiving national contexts with different diversity climates (Belgium, California). It will shed light on understudied micro-processes involved in minority inclusion, and their social and health consequences. EmotionAcculturation offers a novel approach to psychological acculturation that goes beyond attitude change. Moreover, by studying emotional change beyond childhood, it also contributes to our understanding of how emotions are constructed through relational engagements, and how they facilitate social coordination and cohesion.