, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 585-607

Acculturation and Adaptation of Soviet Jewish Refugee Adolescents: Predictors of Adjustment Across Life Domains

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Abstract

This study explores how acculturation is related to adaptation across different life spheres for 162 Soviet Jewish refugee adolescents in a suburban community in Maryland. Because the different contexts of refugee adolescents' lives vary in acculturative demands, different patterns of acculturation should be related to adaptation in different life spheres. The study uses a multidimensional measure of acculturation and assesses acculturation to both American and Russian cultures as it relates to psychological adaptation, peer relations, and school and family outcomes. Findings support the general ecological thesis that acculturation to different cultures is differentially related to adaptation across life domains. Acculturation to American culture predicted better grades and perceived support from American peers. Acculturation to Russian culture predicted perceived support from Russian peers. Both American acculturation and Russian acculturation predicted reduced loneliness and perceived support from parents. Further, different dimensions of acculturation, such as language and identity, were differentially related to adaptation. Implications for acculturation theory and measurement are drawn, and cautions are offered about the interpretation of acculturation studies using single proxies such as language use or preference.