Acculturation and well-being among college students from immigrant families

Seth J. Schwartz, Alan S. Waterman, Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor, Richard M. Lee, Su Yeong Kim, Alexander T. Vazsonyi, Que Lam Huynh, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Irene J.K. Park, Monika Hudson, Byron L. Zamboanga, Melina M. Bersamin, Michelle K. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Objective: The present study was designed to ascertain the associations between acculturation and well-being in first-generation and second-generation immigrant college students. Acculturation was operationalized as a multidimensional construct comprised of heritage and American cultural practices, values (individualism and collectivism), and identifications, and well-being was operationalized in terms of subjective, psychological, and eudaimonic components. Method: Participants were 2,774 first-generation and second-generation immigrant students (70% women), from 6 ethnic groups and from 30 colleges and universities around the United States. Participants completed measures of heritage and American cultural practices, values, and identifications, as well as of subjective, psychological, and eudaimonic well-being. Results: Findings indicated that individualistic values were positively related to psychological and eudaimonic well-being, and positively, although somewhat less strongly, linked with subjective well-being. American and heritage identifications were both modestly related to psychological and eudaimonic well-being. These findings were consistent across gender, immigrant generation (first versus second), and ethnicity. Conclusions: Psychological and eudaimonic well-being appear to be inherently individualistic conceptions of happiness, and endorsement of individualistic values appears linked with these forms of well-being. Attachments to a cultural group-the United States, one's country of origin, or both-appear to promote psychological and eudaimonic well-being as well. The present findings suggest that similar strategies can be used to promote well-being for both male and female students, for students from various ethnic backgrounds, and for both first-generation and second-generation immigrant students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-318
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of clinical psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Acculturation
  • Collectivism
  • College students
  • Immigrants
  • Individualism
  • Well-being


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