Date of Award

9-16-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Maureen C. McHugh, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Beverly J. Goodwin, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Rita G. Drapkin, Ph.D.

Abstract

As the United States becomes an increasingly diverse society, the need for an understanding of the psychological impact of the immigrant and second-generation experience increases. Acculturation, ethnic identity, and worldview have been identified as factors that contribute to the mental health of minority populations. The influence of these variables on interpersonal relationships, however, has not been studied. This research sought to better understand the impact these three variables have on the friendship and romantic relationship choices of immigrant and second-generation South Asian individuals between the ages of 21 and 36. The following measures were adapted for this population and used to assess the aforementioned variables: Suinn-Lew Asian Self-Identity Acculturation Scale (SL-ASIA; Suinn et all., 1987), Multidimensional Black Identity Inventory (MIBI; Sellers et al., 1997), Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure-Revised (MEIM-R; Phinney and Ong, 2007), the Individualism-Collectivism Scale-Shortened Version (Hui and Yee, 1994) and the Cultural Values Conflict Scale (CVCS; Inman et al., 2001). Recruitment was conducted through campus organizations and snowball sampling, and data was obtained online. Correlational and multiple regression results show that there is a complex relationship between these variables, and that individuals who are able to successfully negotiate both cultural contexts engage in behaviors that allow them to integrate their cultural identities into their perceptions of themselves and their understanding of the American and South Asian worlds around them. This study’s most salient finding is that long-term romantic relationship choices, as opposed to friendship choices and dating behaviors, are most influenced by the strength and centrality of ethnic identity. Clinical implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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