Exploring the double-edged sword of cultural variability in interactions with family versus friends

Gail M. Ferguson, Jacqueline Nguyen, Maria I. Iturbide, Cagla Giray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Cultural variability (CV) refers to the tendency to vary/adjust the influence of a single cultural identity on one's social interactions and behaviors from day to day. CV has different influences on interpersonal interactions, positive for some interactions but with adverse effects for others; hence, we aimed to further explore these associations by considering immigrant status and ethnic orientation as potential moderators. Hierarchical regression using daily diary self-reports of U.S. emerging adults (N = 242) revealed that cultural variability is a double-edged sword only for first- and second-generation immigrants rather than for nationals (3rd generation and later). That is, CV predicts positive family interactions for both groups, but negative interactions with close friends only for immigrants, especially those with strong ethnic orientation. Cultural variability adds a new dimension to our understanding of cultural identity as dynamic, domain-specific, and nuanced in its associations with adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-91
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
StatePublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded in equal parts by a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture #1002129 to the first author and by institutional funds awarded to the second author. An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology, Nagoya, Japan. We acknowledge the dedicated work of research assistants who contributed to this project.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Cultural identity
  • Cultural variability
  • Emerging adulthood
  • Ethnic orientation
  • Immigrant
  • Sociocultural adaptation


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