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Perspect Psychol Sci. 2010 Jul;5(4):472-81. doi: 10.1177/1745691610373075.

Acculturation: When Individuals and Groups of Different Cultural Backgrounds Meet.

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Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


In cross-cultural psychology, one of the major sources of the development and display of human behavior is the contact between cultural populations. Such intercultural contact results in both cultural and psychological changes. At the cultural level, collective activities and social institutions become altered, and at the psychological level, there are changes in an individual's daily behavioral repertoire and sometimes in experienced stress. The two most common research findings at the individual level are that there are large variations in how people acculturate and in how well they adapt to this process. Variations in ways of acculturating have become known by the terms integration, assimilation, separation, and marginalization. Two variations in adaptation have been identified, involving psychological well-being and sociocultural competence. One important finding is that there are relationships between how individuals acculturate and how well they adapt: Often those who integrate (defined as being engaged in both their heritage culture and in the larger society) are better adapted than those who acculturate by orienting themselves to one or the other culture (by way of assimilation or separation) or to neither culture (marginalization). Implications of these findings for policy and program development and for future research are presented.


acculturation; acculturation strategies; acculturative stress; cultural learning; development; psychological adaptation; sociocultural adaptation


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