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Acculturation in Context: The Moderating Effects of Immigrant and Native Peer Orientations on the Acculturation Experiences of Immigrants

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Abstract

Immigrant adolescents have to navigate through a complex social environment consisting of, at least, both a native and a co-ethnic community. This study used a multi-level framework to consider two research questions involving this complexity. The individual-level associations of acculturation orientations and acculturative hassles (language and sociocultural adaptation) was assessed in immigrant youths, and whether this association differs depending on the school-level acculturation orientations held by co-ethnic peers, and the school-level orientations toward immigrants held by native German peers. We then investigated whether acculturative hassles are associated with the psychosocial functioning (self-efficacy, depressive symptoms) of immigrant adolescents. The sample comprised 650 ethnic German Diaspora migrant adolescents (mean age 15.6 years, 53.7 % female) and their 787 native German peers (mean age 15.05 years, 51 % female). The results showed that contextual factors (co-ethnic acculturation orientation, native friendship preferences) moderated the association between the acculturation orientations of adolescent immigrants and both types of acculturative hassles. Acculturative hassles, in turn, were associated with the psychosocial functioning of adolescents. This research demonstrates that a person-by-context perspective is needed to better understand the adaptation of adolescent immigrants. This perspective has to take into account both the native and the co-ethnic peer environment.

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Acknowledgments

This project was funded through the German Israeli Project Cooperation (DIP-4.1) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Principal investigators: Rainer K. Silbereisen, Gideon Fishman, Gustavo Mesch, and Zvi Eisikovits.

Author contribution

P.F.T. and P.J. conceived of the study. P.F.T. participated in the design and data collection and drafted parts of the manuscript, particularly with regard to acculturation and immigration perspective. P.J. conducted most analyses for the study and drafted parts of the manuscript, particularly with regard to the intergroup perspective. Both authors participated in the interpretation of the data, read, edited, and approved the final manuscript.

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The authors report no conflict of interests.

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Titzmann, P.F., Jugert, P. Acculturation in Context: The Moderating Effects of Immigrant and Native Peer Orientations on the Acculturation Experiences of Immigrants. J Youth Adolescence 44, 2079–2094 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-015-0314-0

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