Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fielding graduate Seval R. Aksu completes dissertation in the School of Psychology

Acculturation Experiences and Personality Characteristics among Turkish Americans -- Seval R. Aksu

Seval Aksu is currently working as a Psychotherapist and Postdoctoral Intern at Community Mental Health Council, Mountain View, CA.

This study investigated how the two dimensions (heritage culture and mainstream culture identification) and four strategies (integration, assimilation, separation, and marginalization) of acculturation are associated with personality and mental health of first-generation Turkish Americans, people who were born in Turkey and immigrated to the United States. To measure personality and psychopathology, MMPI-2/MMPI-2-RF RC scales were used. This study was significant for employing a newer (i.e., bidimensional) conceptualization of acculturation, RC scales (purer and psychometrically more appealing versions of the original clinical scales), on a Turkish American community sample. Results indicated that lower mainstream-culture identification was associated with higher scores on Demoralization (RCd), Somatic Complaints (RC1), Low Positive Emotions (RC2), Cynicism (RC3), and Dysfunctional Negative Emotions (RC7) scales; and lower heritage-culture identification was associated with higher scores on Demoralization (RCd), Cynicism (RC3), and Antisocial Behavior (RC4) scales to the direction of psychopathology. The findings of this study are consistent with previous studies that found different levels of acculturation to have differential impact on MMPI-2/MMPI-2-RF performance, and studies that found higher identification with both mainstream culture and heritage culture to be associated with more favorable mental health outcomes. Findings provided support for the premise that both mainstream and heritage cultures simultaneously offer benefits in cross-cultural living. In addition, findings of the study showed support for the bidimensional model of acculturation and challenged unidimentional model of acculturation as most participants demonstrated high identification with both mainstream and heritage cultures. In addition, while there was a significant and positive association between length of residence and mainstream culture identification (r =.25, p < .01), there was an extremely small and statistically insignificant association between length of residence and heritage culture.

Key Words: MMPI-2-RF, MMPI-2, RC scales, acculturation, acculturation strategies, bidimensional model of acculturation, unidimensional model of acculturation, Turkish Americans, immigration, mental health.

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