Through intercultural contact, immigrants can change the stereotypes they had previously held about the majority ethnic group in their host cultures. Other undocumented processes of socio-cognitive adaptation following migration are also possible; immigrants’ preexisting stereotypes about social groups (e.g., politicians, older people), for example, may change because of host-cultural learning. This article examines the stereotype accommodation hypothesis, which states that differences in cultural stereotypes between immigrants’ host and origin cultures are a source of inconsistent stereotype-relevant information that immigrants may or may not incorporate into their preexisting beliefs. Support for this hypothesis is found in two studies of locals in Romania, Germany, and France (N = 532), and Romanian immigrants in Germany and in France (N = 225). Length of stay in the host culture and acculturation orientation predict the stereotype accommodation regarding politicians, the only social group for which stereotypes substantially differ between origin and host cultures. The results represent the first step in a research agenda for studying migrants’ socio-cognitive adaptation beyond the question of inter-ethnic stereotype change. The article thus discusses future avenues for the study of behavior and discrimination from the perspective of immigrants as agentic individuals.
Stereotype accommodation is a new concept that we introduce in the literature
Figure 1. A framework of the cross-cultural differences, learning opportunities, individual differences, and cognitive resources in the study of how disconfirming/ novel stereotype-relevant information is incorporated towards stereotype accommodation. NOTE: ‘P’ stands for Propositions and it refers to in-text propositions.
The article co-authored with Christin-Melanie Vauclair (CIS-IUL, ISCTE) is now in the process of publication at the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology (JCCP). For the version of the manuscript that has been accepted, you can download a pdf copy here..
The article ‘Stereotype accommodation: A socio-cognitive perspective on migrants’ cultural adaptation’ is a theoretical piece in which we introduce in the literature the concept of stereotype accommodation and a theoretical framework that can be used in its empirical testing.
We define stereotype accommodation as a cognitive process whereby migrants incorporate the stereotype-relevant information learned in their host cultures into their pre-existing stereotypes.
Our main argument is that the existing work has only considered ways in which migrants’ perceptions about the ethnicity of country-natives (and vice versa, the perceptions of country-natives about the ethnicity of migrants) can change in the context of migration. But, as we know from the stereotype literature, such an approach addresses only one characteristic of a group or individual, namely the ethnicity. We propose that in the migration context individuals can also go through a process of cognitive heuristic adaptation. The core contribution of the article is therefore to provide means of studying the cognitive adaptation of migrants in a wider form, one that includes the study of perceptions of other’s ethnicity and of perceptions about other features that can be used to categorize people, such as gender and employment status.
Parallel mediation analysis of the effects of acculturation orientations and adaptation types on life satisfaction of Romanian MEAs in culturally distant countries. Maintain Home & Interest Host = two dimension of acculturation; Overall Well-Being = Life Satisfaction; Contextually-Bound Well-Being = Psychological Adaptation; numbers in-between brackets = standard errors; after “/” = values for Interest host; the coefficients on the direct lines from Maintain Home and Interest Host to Life Satisfaction indicate indirect effects (i.e., effect that remains after the effect of the explanatory factor is ruled out); N = 146; tp < .10; * p < .05; ** p < .001.
Planned for publication in December 2017, I have a chapter contribution in the book edited by Dr. Radosveta Dimitrova “Well-being of youth and emerging adults across cultures: Novel approaches and findings from Europe, Asia, Africa, and America”. (see table of contents here, read more about the book here).
In the chapter, I argue for a clearer operationalization of well-being in migration research. I present a brief literature review and initial empirical evidence in showing that literature to date has been interchangeably, albeit incorrectly in my opinion, used measures of ‘psychological adaptation’ and ‘life satisfaction’ to arrive at the concept of well-being. My proposition is that, in fact, ‘psychological adaptation’ measures tap into migrants’ well-being that is context-dependent and, furthermore, that ‘life satisfaction’ measures tap into an overall indicator of migrants’ well-being.
The chapter abstract can be read below:
In addition to developmental challenges, migration during emerging adulthood can pose unique obstacles to individuals’ positive well-being. This chapter proposes distinguishing between two types of migrant emerging adults’ (MEAs) well-being (overall and contextually-bound) as one way to examine the influences of these interferences. A brief review of the literature and empirical support is provided for this claim among samples of Romanian MEAs in Europe (N = 215), an ethnic group that is under-represented in the literature. The overall well-being of MEAs can be studied as a result of an association between acculturation orientation and adaptation (as contextually-bound well-being and sociocultural), two variables especially relevant for MEAs living in culturally distant host societies. The findings suggest there may be different templates of well-being depending on whether migrants live in similar or distant host cultures compared to their home cultures. Furthermore, the role of context is discussed and it is suggested that the distinction between the two types of well-being can provide a more accurate insight for practitioners with regards to whether age-related or migration-related issues are problematic to migrants’ well-being and therefore require assistance.