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Stress, Coping and Adjustment


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The Psychology of Culture Shock, Ward et al.

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Stress, Coping and Adjustment

  1. 1. Stress, Coping and Adjustment Affective components of intercultural contact Conceptual frameworks are now guided by psychosocial rather than medical models In contrast to culture shock and psychopathology, current approaches discuss intercultural contact and change in terms of dealing with stress
  2. 2. The Stress & Coping Framework Highlights life changes during cross- cultural transition, the appraisal of these changes, and the selection and implementation of coping strategies to deal with them Fits neatly within Acculturation Framework
  3. 3. Core Assumptions, S & C Framework Experience of intercultural contact and change occurs in an economic & sociopolitical context and is influenced by both societies (origin & settlement) Changes are seen as precipitating stress that results in affective, behavioral and cognitive coping responses
  4. 4. Berry’s Framework (see pg 72, Ward) Considers acculturative experience as major life event characterized by stress, which demands cognitive appraisal of the situation and requires coping strategies Processes and psychological outcomes are influenced by both societal and individual level variables
  5. 5. Societal Level Variables Includes society of origin and society of settlement: social, political and demographic factors such as ethnic composition, extent of cultural pluralism, and attitudes towards ethnic and cultural out-groups Berry also distinguishes between variables prior to and during acculturation.
  6. 6. Factors affecting Stress, Coping and Adjustment Life changes: series of stress provoking life changes that tax adjustive resources and necessitate coping strategies Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS): a functional index of life changes -Holmes & Rahe (1967) Cultural Readjustment Rating Scale -Spradley & Phillips (1972)
  7. 7. Appraisal and Coping Styles Individual differences in cognitive appraisal of changes. A potential stressor may be seen as challenging or threatening. Appraisals influenced by individual, cultural, situational and social factors Appraisals and coping strategies vary due to differences in migrants’ expectations (realistic expectations may facilitate adjustment)
  8. 8. Overmet & Undermet Expectations Overmet: situations in which experiences are more positive than expected (some studies point to overmet expectations as increasing life satisfaction (Black, 1990) Undermet: situations in which experiences are more negative than expected, such as when re- entry is more difficult than expected the result is higher levels of depression (Rogers & Ward, 1993) Coping styles are related to coping satisfaction
  9. 9. Psychological Adjustment Over Time U-curve: honeymoon—crisis—recovery— adjustment (model appealing yet supporting evidence is weak) Stress & Coping literature: in contrast to ‘entry euphoria,’ sojourners and immigrants suffer the most severe adjustment problems at the initial stages of transition when the number of life changes is highest and coping resources lowest. Longitudinal studies more appropriate
  10. 10. Personality Authoritarianism, rigidity and ethnocentrism may impede psychological adjustment during transition (Locke & Feinsod, 1982) Extraversion and sensitivity embody the ‘universal communicator’ and may facilitate adaptation (Gardner, 1962) extensive theorizing but few documentedinvestigations of how personality affects adjustment- ‘cultural fit’ hypothesis (person x situation)
  11. 11. Social Support Significant factor in predicting both psychological adjustment and physical health Family, Friends, Acquaintances Marital satisfaction-dissatisfaction and adaptive-maladaptive coping may be associated in many ways
  12. 12. Friends & Acquaintances Controversial topic when considering the merit of co-national vs. host national support ‘Comparable Others’: those undergoing similar experiences who may offer knowledge or information about coping ‘Sinking Ship Morale’: commiseration among those experiencing stress under unstable conditions
  13. 13. Relationships with host nationals Having host nationals as friends has been associated with a decrease in psychological problems in immigrants. Comfort and satisfaction with local contact has been associated with greater general life satisfaction in foreign students, both academic and non-academic. Research points to this contact as a prerequisite for sojourner adjustment and learning cultural- specific skills.
  14. 14. Social Support Scale for Sojourners Based on research with both international students and business people in Singapore. Highlights the availability of social support and asks respondents to indicate if there are persons (no one, someone, a few, several, many) who would offer a variety of supportive behaviors Socioemotional and instrumental support (Ong, 2000)-see page 89, Ward
  15. 15. Knowledge and Skills (coping resources) Provide the foundation for effective intercultural interaction and facilitate psychological adaptation to new sociocultural environments prior experience training and educational programs associated with positive effects on well-being, interpersonal and cognitive skills, adjustability and work performance
  16. 16. Knowledge & Skills (cont.) Adequate communication may be the key component to intercultural effectiveness (a number of studies link language fluency to well- being and adjustment). Inverse relationship also observed (increased fluency in Japanese led to decreased satisfaction in foreign students r/t higher expectations for friendship (Takai, 1989) Social skills very significant for adjustment
  17. 17. Modes of Acculturation Acculturation is related to both more and less stress and depression. To explain inconsistencies, some researchers argue that the bicultural mode of acculturation is most adaptive. Others argue effects are moderated by variables such as age, gender and religion. Research supports ‘integration’ over ‘assimilation’
  18. 18. Acculturation status and demographic factors Berry et al. (1987) compared level of acculturative stress (psychological and psychosomatic symptoms) in refugees, sojourners, immigrants, native peoples and ethnocultural groups within a multicultural society. Native peoples and refugees experienced highest levels of acculturative stress; immigrants and ethnic groups, the lowest level, sojourners intermediate.
  19. 19. Demographic factors (cont.) Stress and coping research is mixed and ambiguous on gender differences, age and adaptation across generations. (pg 94, Ward)
  20. 20. Cultural Distance Concept first introduced by Babiker, Cox and Miller in 1980. In recent sojourner research the link between cultural distance and psychological disturbance has been further substantiated. Greater cultural distance is associated with increased intensity of life changes during transition and more acculturative stress
  21. 21. Prejudice and Discrimination A number of researchers speculate that attitudes held by members of the dominate culture strongly influence patterns of immigrant, sojourner and refugee adaptation. Racism is the most serious risk factor for immigrants ‘perceived discrimination’ also a factor