Cuban Latin Americans: Psychosocial Correlates of Cultural Adjustment

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Sinclair, Elsa A. Rivera
Magoon, Thomas M.
The process of adjustment to a new culture-acculturation-- is considered a crucial factor contributing to variations of psychological distress and anxiety among immigrant groups. It is believed that a person's level of distress during the cultural adaptation process is a reflection of the interconnection of the psychological and sociocultural processes of personality functioning. Behavioral scientists' accounts of the psychological effects experienced by Latin Americans during the cultural adjustment process point to maladjustment rather than to the positive aspects of this cultural phenomenon. To a lesser degree the literature reveals that acculturation may have a wholesome effect for some individuals in the long run. Some evidence, however, suggests that biculturalism may be a healthy approach to cultural adjustment. The present study investigated the psychosocial correlates of biculturalism. Two-hundred and fifty four male and female Cuban participants ranging from 18-90 years of age, living in metropolitan Washington, o.c., were administered self-report questionnaires. This field study examined the role played in biculturalism (Bicultural Involvement Questionnaire, BIQ) by age, length of time in the United States, and gender of the participants. The role played by presence of a support group, educational level, income level, ethnic identification, and use of mental health facilities was also explored. The criterion for level of adjustment was the participants' anxiety scores (State Anxiety Scale, SAS). The investigation's assumption is that biculturalism is related to relatively low anxiety levels. A hierarchical Multiple Regression Analysis revealed that (a) biculturalism and anxiety are related to the length of time the Cuban participant has been in the United States, (b) biculturalism is associated with the person's age, (c) there is a significant and positive linear relationship between BIQ scores and SAS scores. This means that if a person continues to remain monoculturally Cuban while living in a bicultural community, his/her levels of anxiety will be high. This tested the psychosocial model of adjustment. However, the test for the curvilinear relationship was not significant, and (d) the presence of support group networks, educational level, family income and ethnic identification are significantly associated with the process of biculturalism.