WELL-BEING AND NEGATIVE MOOD OF SOUTH ASIAN AMERICAN COLLEGE STUDENTS: CONTRIBUTIONS OF ADULT ATTACHMENT, ACCULTURATION, AND RACIAL IDENTITY

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2008-07-08

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Traditional psychological theories of development (e.g., attachment theory) have been criticized for their inability to fully explain well-being and negative mental health outcomes in ethnic and racial minority populations (Rothbaum, Weisz, Pott, Miyake, & Morelli, 2000; Wang & Mallinckrodt, 2006). Specifically, the intersection of developmental theories and salient sociocultural variables in predicting the well-being of Asian Americans has not been well elucidated, as little research has been conducted in this area. Yet, the need for understanding the mechanisms underlying the well-being of Asian Americans has been rising as the Asian American population is the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States (Zhou, 2004). The goal of this study was to extend knowledge regarding the applicability of attachment theory using a cross-cultural lens. Specifically, this study examined the joint contributions of a traditional developmental theory and sociocultural variables to better understand optimal development and well-being among South Asian Americans. This study advanced knowledge by finding that for South Asian American college students, adult attachment, acculturation and racial identity account for robust variance in the prediction of self-esteem, anxious mood, and depressed mood. Adult attachment, acculturation and racial identity accounted for variance in self-esteem, and more specifically, avoidant attachment, anxious attachment, and racial identity's internalization accounted for unique variance in self-esteem. The variance in anxious mood was accounted for by adult attachment, acculturation, and racial identity, with racial identity's conformity status accounting for unique variance in anxious mood. Finally, adult attachment, acculturation and racial identity accounted for variance in depressed mood. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

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