Social Support and Culture Fit in Chinese Students: A Cross-cultural Study

By Claire Hsieh Corey and Rhiannon Allen.

Published by The International Journal of Diverse Identities

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This study explored the relations among self-construal, coping, social support, acculturation, stress, and academic satisfaction, and tested the “culture fit” hypothesis using three groups of university students from two different cultures—Caucasians in America, Chinese Americans, and Chinese in Taiwan. Reflecting their ethnic origin, Chinese students in the U.S. closely resembled Taiwanese in values of individualism, esteem for group, and relational interdependence. However, they reported higher levels of stress and lower levels of satisfaction. No correlations were found between acculturation and other variables for Chinese Americans. Path analyses revealed identical pathways for the two groups of students in the U.S., with social support fully mediating the relation between independent self-construal and perceived stress; interdependent self-construal, social support and stress predicting satisfaction; and culture fit contributing independently to stress. For Taiwanese students, social support played an even more central role in predicting satisfaction. The stress expressed by Chinese American students can thus be partially explained by a combination of being Chinese in America and feeling a lack of social support. Results provide limited support for the culture fit hypothesis, but suggest a need for further exploration of unique sources of stress for Asian Americans.

Keywords: Chinese Americans, Self-construal, Culture Fit, Stress, Acculturation

International Journal of Diverse Identities, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp.9-23. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 679.709KB).

Dr. Claire Hsieh Corey

Psychologist, Allina Medical Clinic, Shakopee, Minnesota, USA

Claire Hsieh Corey received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Long Island University. She completed her clinical internship at Harvard Medical School, with training rotations at Massachusetts Mental Health Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston. Her interest in cross-cultural research stems from personal experience and observations. She is a licensed psychologist in both Massachusetts and Minnesota. Her clinical specialties include insight-oriented psychodynamic psychotherapy, clinical assessment, and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

Dr. Rhiannon Allen

Visiting Scholar, Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Rhiannon Allen received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the City University of New York. She is currently a Professor Emerita at Long Island University and a visiting scholar at the University of British Columbia. Her past research in cross-cultural and cultural psychology has included examinations of achievement anxiety in Asian Americans, child rearing practices of African Americans, and child control techniques used by Turkish and American mothers. Her current research includes behavioural autonomy in Russian children, the impact of family migration on Caribbean families, and ethnic differences in self-construal in various ethnic and national groups of students.