Psychological and socio-cultural adaptation of immigrant and national adolescents in Australia: A test of the acculturative stress hypothesis

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Purpose: The first aim of this study was to test the acculturative stress hypothesis within the Australian context
predicting that immigrant adolescents are more prone to psychological and socio-cultural adaptation problems than their
national Australian peers. The second aim of the study was to profile the socio-demographic factors underlying adaptation
problems. Methods: The study utilised stratified surveys conducted by the New South Wales Ministry of Health during the
years 2005-2008. The surveys collected information on socio-demographics, and psychological problems (i.e. emotional
problems) and socio-cultural problems (i.e. hyperactivity-inattention, peer problems, and conduct problems). Adolescents
aged 11-15 years (n = 5,779 for the total sample; n = 638, n = 5054, for immigrants and nationals, respectively) were included. Logistic regression analyses, taking observations’ weights into account, were used for the adaptation problems outcomes. Results: The two groups differed in socio-cultural adaptation problems only (specifically in hyperactivityinattention), with nationals having greater odds for this than immigrants even after adjusting for socio-demographics (adjusted OR = 2.23; 95% CI = 1.23—4.06). While immigrant adolescents’ sex was associated with hyperactivity-inattention
problems only, sex was associated with emotional problems, hyperactivity-inattention problems, and conduct problems
among national adolescents. In addition, mothers’ education was associated with conduct problems and household income
was associated with peer problems among national adolescents only. Conclusions: Contrary to the acculturative stress hypothesis, this study shows that immigrant adolescents do not seem maladaptive. In addition, certain socio-demographic
factors play a differential role in the emergence of adaptation problems among immigrant and national adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Applied Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


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