Acculturation of Indian Immigrants to the United States: Technology as a Coping Mechanism: An Abstract
This study examines how ethnic Indians use technology in the acculturation process to enhance their subjective well-being. In brief, this study attempts to address two major research questions: (1) does acculturation impact the usage of technology and (2) does technology help alleviate the stress and enhance the well-being of an ethnic group who left their home country. From these research questions, a series of research hypotheses are developed and empirically tested with data from a convenience/snowball sample of 173 ethnic Indians residing in the United States.
We propose Indian immigrants to the United States experience culture shock and stress during the acculturation process. In response, these individuals seek methods of dealing with their feelings in order to preserve their life satisfaction. We hypothesized that three of the subcomponents of the Acculturation to Global Consumer Culture—cosmopolitanism (H1a), social interactions (H1b), and identification with global consumer culture (H1c)—would encourage Indian immigrants to use WhatsApp to communicate with family and friends. The results indicate support for H1a. Conversely, H1b and H1c are not supported.
The second research question deals with the impact of WhatsApp technology on user well-being. Our general proposition is immigrants face challenges in the acculturation process and turn to WhatsApp as a method of dealing with these issues, and the connection with people of a similar culture through WhatsApp results in enhanced well-being. The results indicate the use of WhatsApp is indeed related to increases in life satisfaction (H2a), well-being (H2b), happiness (H2c), and positive affect (H2d). Furthermore, using WhatsApp is found to reduce negative affect (H2e). In sum, WhatsApp appears to be a very effective coping device for Indian immigrants struggling with their adaptation to their life in the United States.
From a research perspective, the results help address the earlier question “Does the use of technology for communication influence well-being?” While the majority of research has indicated technology provides a conduit for individuals to enhance their life satisfaction, others have found electronic social networks to have a negative effect on subjective well-being. In this situation, the results are unequivocal—WhatsApp increases the positive elements of subjective well-being while diminishing negative effect.
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