Acculturation and mental health: Asian Indian immigrants in the United States

Date of Completion

January 1993


Anthropology, Cultural|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies




In the current study, 195 first-generation immigrants from India completed a survey about aspects of acculturation and mental health. Acculturation was measured by the American International Relations Scale (Sodowsky & Plake, 1991). Mental health was measured using three indices: psychological distress (Langner scale), acculturative stress, and subjective well-being. Multiple regression analyses were used to identify statistical predictors of a composite index of mental health. Results indicate that perception of acceptance by Americans and cultural orientation play crucial roles in mental health independent from length of residence in this country, pre-migration adjustment, and other relevant demographic variables, such as, socioeconomic status, age, and skin color, all which might be expected to mediate the relationship between acculturation and mental health. In addition, few if any Indian immigrants in this sample indicated that they were trying to assimilate into American culture. Most indicated that they were remaining Indian in their cultural orientation or were attempting to integrate aspects of American and Indian cultures. Furthermore, those who leaned toward biculturalism appeared to be better off psychologically than those who separated themselves from American culture. Relinquishing Indian culture did not appear necessary for making a good psychological adjustment to living in this country. The results fit well with a model of acculturation articulated by Berry et al. (1987). The conclusion is that biculturalism may reduce acculturative stress, by easing intergroup conflict without the pain associated with cultural loss, thus inoculating the immigrant against problems of adjustment. ^