Drawing on data from the fifth cycle of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the authors examined the relations of reported acculturation orientations—heritage as well as host culture-orientations—and perceived cultural distance between host and heritage culture with academic performance among 399 first- and second-generation immigrant adolescent students in Portugal. Results of hierarchical regression analyses, after accounting for student demographic characteristics, revealed a positive relationship between host culture-orientations and the first-generation immigrant adolescents’ performance on the PISA reading, mathematics and science assessments, and also the second-generation immigrant adolescents’ performance on reading assessment. Additionally, both the first- and second- generation immigrant adolescents’ heritage culture-orientations were significantly negatively linked to performance on the PISA reading, mathematics, and science assessments. Furthermore, findings revealed that first-generation immigrant adolescents’ perceived cultural distance was significantly negatively associated with their performance on the PISA reading and mathematics assessments. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Areepattamannil, S., & Kaur, B. (2012). Factors predicting science achievement of immigrant and non-immigrant students: A multilevel analysis. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 5, 1183–1207.
Arends-Tóth, J., & Van de Vijver, F. J. R. (2003). Multiculturalism and acculturation: Views of Dutch and Turkish-Dutch. European Journal of Social Psychology, 33, 249–266.
Arends-Tóth, J., & Van de Vijver, F. J. (2006). Issues in the conceptualization and assessment of acculturation. In M. H. Bornstein & L. R. Cote (Eds.), Acculturation and parent-child relationships: Measurement and development (pp. 33–62). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.
Babiker, I. E., Cox, J. L., & Miller, P. (1980). The measurement of cultural distance and its relationship to medical consultations, symptomatology, and examination performance of overseas students at Edinburgh University. Social Psychiatry, 15, 109–116.
Baganha, M. I., & Marques, J. C. (2001). Imigracao e politica: O caso Portugues (Immigration and Politics: The Portuguese case) (1st ed.). Lisbon, Portugal: Fundação Luso-Americana para o Desenvolvimento.
Bankston, C. L., III, & Zhou, M. (1997). The social adjustment of Vietnamese American adolescents: Evidence for a segmented-assimilation approach. Social Science Quarterly, 78, 508–523.
Benet-Martínez, V., & Haritatos, J. (2005). Bicultural identity integration (BII): Components and psychosocial antecedents. Journal of Personality, 73, 1015–1050.
Benet-Martínez, V., Leu, J., Lee, F., & Morris, M. W. (2002). Negotiating biculturalism: Cultural frame switching in biculturals with oppositional versus compatible cultural identities. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 33(5), 492–516.
Berry, J. W. (1990). Acculturation and adaptation: A general framework.
Berry, J. W. (1992). Acculturation and adaptation in a new society. International Migration, 30, 69–86.
Berry, J. W. (1997). Immigration, acculturation, and adaptation. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 46, 5–43.
Berry, J. W. (2003). Conceptual approaches to acculturation. American Psychological Association.
Berry, J. W. (2005). Acculturation: Living successfully in two cultures. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 29(6), 697–712.
Berry, J. W. (2006). Stress perspectives on acculturation. In D. L. Sam & J. W. Berry (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of acculturation psychology (pp. 43–57). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Berry, J. W. (2017). Theories and models of acculturation. In S. J. Schwartz & J. B. Unger (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of acculturation (pp. 15–28). New York: Oxford University Press.
Berry, J. W., Phinney, J. S., Sam, D. L., & Vedder, P. (Eds.). (2006). Immigrant youth in cultural transition: Acculturation, identity, and adaptation across national contexts. Mahwah: Erlbaum.
Blomquist, G. (2006). Measuring quality of life. In R. Arnott & D. McMillen (Eds.), A companion to urban economics (pp. 480–501). Oxford: Wiley-Backwell.
Bochner, S. (Ed.). (1982). Cultures in contact: Studies in cross-cultural interaction. Oxford: Pergamon.
Boski, P. (2008). Five meanings of integration in acculturation research. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 32(2), 142–153.
Bourhis, R. Y., Moise, L. C., Perreault, S., & Senecal, S. (1997). Towards an interactive acculturation model: A social psychological approach. International Journal of Psychology, 32, 369–386.
Bourhis, R. Y., Montaruli, E., El-Geledi, S., Harvey, S. P., & Barrette, G. (2010). Acculturation in multiple host community settings. Journal of Social Issues, 66, 780–802.
Cabral, S., & Duarte, C. (2011). Immigrants in the Portuguese labour market. Banco de Portugal Economic Bulletin, 1, 97–116.
Cheng, C. Y., & Leung, A. K. Y. (2013). Revisiting the multicultural experience—Creativity link: The effects of perceived cultural distance and comparison mind-set. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4, 475–482.
Clément, R. (1986). Second language proficiency and acculturation: An investigation of the effects of language status and individual characteristics. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 5, 271–290.
Colon, Y., & Sanchez, B. (2010). Explaining the gender disparity in Latino youth’s education: acculturation and economic value of education. Urban Education, 45, 252–273.
Dimitrova, R., Bender, M., & van de Vijver, F. J. R. (Eds.). (2014). Global perspectives on well-being in immigrant families. New York: Springer.
Duong, M. T., Badaly, D., Liu, F. F., Schwartz, D., & McCarty, C. A. (2016). Generational differences in academic achievement among immigrant youths: A meta-analytic review. Review of Educational Research, 86, 3–41.
Dustmann, C., Frattini, T., & Lanzara, G. (2011). Educational achievement of second- generation immigrants: an international comparison. CreAM Discussion Paper No 16/11.
Esser, H. (2006). Migration, language and integration. WZB. Retrieved from https://wzb.eu/www2000/alt/aki/files/aki_research_review_4.pdf.
Feliciano, C., & Lanuza, Y. R. (2017). An immigrant paradox? Contextual attainment and intergenerational educational mobility. American Sociological Review, 82, 211–241.
Fuligni, A. J. (1997). The academic achievement of adolescents from immigrant families: The roles of family background, attitudes, and behaviour. Child Development, 68, 351–363.
Fuligni, A. J., Witkow, M., & Garcia, C. (2005). Ethnic identity and the academic adjustment of adolescents from Mexican, Chinese, and European backgrounds. Developmental Psychology, 41(5), 799.
Furnham, A., & Bochner, S. (1982). Social difficulty in a foreign culture: An empirical analysis. In S. Bochner (Ed.), Cultures in contact: Studies in cross-cultural interaction (pp. 161–198). Oxford: Pergamon.
Galchenko, I., & van de Vijver, F. J. (2007a). The role of perceived cultural distance in the acculturation of exchange students in Russia. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 31, 181–197.
Galchenko, I., & Van De Vijver, F. J. (2007b). The role of perceived cultural distance in the acculturation of exchange students in Russia. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 31(2), 181–197.
Geeraert, N., & Demoulin, S. (2013). Acculturative stress or resilience? A longitudinal multilevel analysis of sojourners’ stress and self-esteem. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44, 1241–1262.
Gibson, M. A. (1988). Accommodation without assimilation: Sikh immigrants in an American high school. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Gordon, M. M. (1964). Assimilation in American life. New York: Oxford. University Press.
Greenman, E. (2013). Educational attitudes, school peer context, and the “immigrant paradox” in education. Social Science Research, 42, 698–714.
Güngör, D. (2007). The interplay between values, acculturation and adaptation: A study on Turkish-Belgian adolescents. International Journal of Psychology, 42(6), 380–392.
Han, W. J. (2012). Bilingualism and academic achievement. Child Development, 83(1), 300–321.
Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: international differences in work-related values. Beverly Hills: Sage.
Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviours, institutions, and organizations across nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.
International Organization for Migration. (2013). World migration report 2013: Migrant well-being and development. Geneva: Author.
Jia, F., Gottardo, A., Koh, P. W., Chen, X., & Pasquarella, A. (2014). The role of acculturation in reading a second language: Its relation to English literacy skills in immigrant Chinese adolescents. Reading Research Quarterly, 49, 251–261.
Kao, G., & Tienda, M. (1995). Optimism and achievement: The educational performance of immigrant youth. Social Science Quarterly, 76, 331–343.
Kerr, Z. (2007). Parental influences on mathematics achievement of children of immigrant backgrounds (Doctoral dissertation, University of British Columbia).
Kibria, N. (2000). Race, ethnic options, and ethnic binds: Identity negotiations of second-generation Chinese and Korean Americans. Sociological Perspectives, 43(1), 77–95.
Kim, Y. M., Newhill, C., & López, F. (2013). Latino acculturation and perceived educational achievement: Evidence for a bidimensional model of acculturation among Mexican-American children. Journal of Human Behaviour in the Social Environment, 23, 37–52.
Kim, H. Y., & Suárez-Orozco, C. (2015). The language of learning: The academic engagement of newcomer immigrant youth. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 25, 229–245.
LaFromboise, T., Coleman, H. L., & Gerton, J. (1993). Psychological impact of biculturalism: Evidence and theory. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 395–410.
López, E. J., Ehly, S., & García-Vásquez, E. (2002). Acculturation, social support and academic achievement of Mexican and Mexican American high school students: An exploratory study. Psychology in the Schools, 39, 245–257.
Makarova, E., & Birman, D. (2015). Cultural transition and academic achievement of students from ethnic minority backgrounds: A content analysis of empirical research on acculturation. Educational Research, 57, 305–330.
Massey, D. (1990). Social structure, household strategies, and the cumulative causation of migration. Population Index, 56(1), 3–26. https://doi.org/10.2307/3644186.
Massey, D. S., Arango, J., Hugo, G., Kouaouci, A., Pellegrino, A., & Taylor, J. E. (1994). An evaluation of international migration theory: The North American case. Population and Development Review, 20, 699–751.
Mok, A., Morris, M. W., Benet-Martinez, V., & Karakitapoğlu-Aygün, Z. (2007). Embracing American culture: Structures of social identity and social networks among first-generation biculturals. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 38, 629–635.
Motti-Stefanidi, F. (2015). Risks and resilience in immigrant youth adaptation: Who succeeds in the Greek school context and why? European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 12, 261–274.
Motti-Stefanidi, F., Berry, J., Chryssochoou, X., Sam, D. L., & Phinney, J. (2012). Positive immigrant youth adaptation in context: Developmental, acculturation, and social psychological perspectives. In A. S. Masten, K. Liebkind, & D. J. Hernandez (Eds.), Realizing the potential of immigrant youth (pp. 117–158). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mumford, D. B. (1998). The measurement of culture shock. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 33, 149–154.
Murdock, E., & Ferring, D. (2015). Bilingualism = biculturalism? Reflections on the relationship between language and culture. Retrieved from http://orbilu.uni.lu/handle/10993/21756.
Nederhof, A. J. (1985). Methods of coping with social desirability bias: A review. European Journal of Social Psychology, 15, 263–280.
Nguyen, A.-M. D., & Benet-Martínez, V. (2013). Biculturalism is linked to adjustment: A meta-analysis. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44, 122–159.
Niemeyer, A. E., Wong, M. M., & Westerhaus, K. J. (2009). Parental involvement, familismo, and academic performance in Hispanic and Caucasian Adolescents. North American Journal of Psychology, 11, 613–631.
Ogbu, J. U. (1992). Adaptation to minority status and impact on school success. Theory into Practice, 31, 287–295.
Ojeda, L., Castillo, L. G., Rosales Meza, R., & Piña-Watson, B. (2014). Mexican Americans in higher education: Cultural adaptation and marginalization as predictors of college persistence intentions and life satisfaction. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 13, 3–14.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2013). PISA 2012 results: What students know and can do. Paris: Author.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2014). PISA 2012 technical report. Paris: Author.
Phinney, J. S., Horenczyk, G., Liebkind, K., & Vedder, P. (2001). Ethnic identity, immigration, and wellbeing: An interactional perspective. Journal of Social Issues, 57, 493–510.
Plunkett, S. W., & Bámaca-Gómez, M. Y. (2003). The relationship between parenting, acculturation, and adolescent academics in Mexican-origin immigrant families in Los Angeles. Hispanic Journal of Behavioural Sciences, 25, 222–239.
Portes, A., Fernández-Kelly, P., & Haller, W. (2009). The adaptation of the immigrant second generation in America: A theoretical overview and recent evidence. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 35, 1077–1104.
Portes, A., & Rumbaut, R. G. (2001). Legacies: The story of the immigrant second generation. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Rienties, B., & Tempelaar, D. (2013). The role of cultural dimensions of international and Dutch students on academic and social integration and academic performance in the Netherlands. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 37, 188–201.
Rosenbaum, E., & Rochford, J. A. (2008). Generational patterns in academic performance: The variable effects of attitudes and social capital. Social Science Research, 37, 350–372.
Ryder, A. G., Alden, L. E., & Paulhus, D. L. (2000). Is acculturation unidimensional or bidimensional? A head-to-head comparison in the prediction of personality, self-identity, and adjustment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 49–65.
Santiago, C. D., Gudiño, O. G., Baweja, S., & Nadeem, E. (2014). academic achievement among immigrant and U.S.-born Latino adolescents: associations with cultural, family, and acculturation factors. Journal of Community Psychology, 42, 735–747.
Schachner, M. K., Van de Vijver, F. J., & Noack, P. (2014a). Family-related antecedents of early adolescent immigrants’ psychological and sociocultural school adjustment in Germany. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 45, 1606–1625.
Schachner, M. K., Van de Vijver, F. J. R., & Noack, P. (2014b). Characteristics of the country of origin and immigrant children’s psychological and sociocultural school adjustment. In L. T. B. Jackson, D. Meiring, F. J. R. Van de Vijver, E. S. Idemudia, & W. K. Gabrenya Jr. (Eds.), Toward sustainable development through nurturing (or appreciating) diversity (pp. 47–64). Melbourne: International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology.
Schwartz, S. H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theory and empirical tests in 20 countries. In M. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 25, pp. 1–65). New York: Academic Press.
Schwartz, S. J., Unger, J. B., Zamboanga, B. L., & Szapocznik, J. (2010). Rethinking the concept of acculturation: Implications for theory and research. American Psychologist, 65, 237–251.
Seabra, T. (2012). Desigualdades de desempenho escolar: etnicidade, género e condição social em escolas básicas da Área Metropolitana de Lisboa (School performance inequalities: ethnicity, gender and social condition in basic schools in Lisbon’s urban areas). Sociologia, Revista Da Faculdade de Letras Da Universidade Do Porto, (Special issue: Imigração, Diversidade e Convivência Cultural [Immigration, Diversity and Cultural Coexistence]), 185–210.
Searle, W., & Ward, C. (1990). The prediction of psychological and sociocultural adjustment during cross-cultural transitions. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 14, 449–464.
Shin, H. (2004). Parental involvement and its influence on children’s school performance: A comparative study between Asian (Chinese and Koreans) Americans and Mexican-Americans (Unpublished doctoral dissertation), Columbia University, New York, NY.
Snauwaert, B., Soenens, B., Vanbeselaere, N., & Boen, F. (2003). When integration does not necessarily imply integration: Different conceptualizations of acculturation orientations lead to different classifications. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 34(2), 231–239.
Stahl, G. K., & Caligiuri, P. (2005). The effectiveness of expatriate coping strategies: The moderating role of culture distance, position level, and time on the international assignment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 603–615.
Suanet, I., & Van de Vijver, F. J. (2009). Perceived cultural distance and acculturation among exchange students in Russia. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 19, 182–197.
Suárez-Orozco, C., Gaytan, F. X., Bang, H. J., Pakes, J., O’Connor, E., & Rhodes, J. (2010). Academic trajectories of newcomer immigrant youth. Developmental Psychology, 46, 602–618.
Suárez-Orozco, C., Suárez-Orozco, M. M., & Todorova, I. (2008). Learning a new land: Immigrant students in American society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Trickett, E. J., & Birman, D. (2005). Acculturation, school context, and school outcomes: Adaptation of refugee adolescents from the former Soviet Union. Psychology in the Schools, 42, 27–38.
Trinh, N. H., Rho, Y. C., Lu, F. G., & Sanders, K. M. (Eds.). (2009). Handbook of mental health and acculturation in Asian American families. New York: Springer.
Van De Vijver, F. J., & Phalet, K. (2004). Assessment in multicultural groups: The role of acculturation. Applied Psychology, 53, 215–236.
Vollebergh, W. A., Iedema, J., & Raaijmakers, Q. A. (2001). Intergenerational transmission and the formation of cultural orientations in adolescence and young adulthood. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(4), 1185–1198.
Ward, C. (2001). The ABCs of acculturation. In D. Matsumoto (Ed.), The handbook of culture and psychology (pp. 411–445). New York: Oxford University Press.
Ward, C. (2007). Ethno-cultural identity conflict in Korean youth in New Zealand. In Seventh Biennial Conference of the Asian Association of Social Psychology, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
Ward, C. (2013). Probing identity, integration and adaptation: Big questions, little answers. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 37(4), 391–404.
Ward, C., & Kennedy, A. (1993). Psychological and Socio-cultural adjustment during cross-cultural transitions: A comparison of secondary students overseas and at home. International Journal of Psychology, 28, 129–147.
Ward, C., & Searle, W. (1991). The impact of value discrepancies and cultural identity on psychological and sociocultural adjustment of sojourners. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 15(2), 209–224.
Ward, C., Stuart, J., & Kus, L. (2011). The construction and validation of a measure of ethno-cultural identity conflict. Journal of Personality Assessment, 93, 462–473.
Wood, P. B., & Clay, W. C. (1996). Perceived structural barriers and academic performance among American Indian high school students. Youth & Society, 28(1), 40–61.
Yeh, C. J. (2003). Age, acculturation, cultural adjustment, and mental health symptoms of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese immigrant Adolescents. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 9, 34–48.
Yeh, C. J., & Inose, M. (2002). Difficulties and coping strategies of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean immigrant students. Adolescence, 37, 69–82.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Melkonian, M., Areepattamannil, S., Menano, L. et al. Examining acculturation orientations and perceived cultural distance among immigrant adolescents in Portugal: links to performance in reading, mathematics, and science. Soc Psychol Educ 22, 969–989 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-019-09506-5
- Acculturation orientations
- Perceived cultural distance
- Academic performance
- First-generation immigrant adolescents
- Second-generation immigrant adolescents