For immigrants, the demands of adjusting to a new culture can be a significant source of stress. Establishing a new life in one's adopted country can be a difficult adjustment, especially when there are differences in language and culture and few available jobs or training opportunities. One significant source of stress is pressure to become acculturated—to adapt to the values, linguistic preferences, and customs of the host or dominant culture. How does acculturative stress, which results from this pressure, affect psychological health and adjustment?
 What we've learned is that relationships between acculturation and psychological adjustment are complex (Escobar & Vega, 2000). Some researchers find that acculturated Hispanic Americans are more likely to develop psychological disorders than their less acculturated counterparts (Ortega et al., 2000). Others find that Mexican Americans born in the United States tend to show higher rates of psychological problems than recent immigrants from Mexico (Escobar, Hoyos Nervi, & Gara, 2000). But still other researchers link lower acculturation status among Hispanic Americans to higher risks of depression and anxiety (Neff & Hoppe, 1993; Salgado de Snyder, Cervantes, & Padilla, 1990; Zamanian, et al., 1992).
 In attempting to understand these mixed findings, we should note that the process of adjusting successfully to a new society depends on a number of factors. For example, stress associated with economic hardship is a major contributor to adjustment problems in immigrant groups, as it is for members of the host culture. And difficulties faced by poorly acculturated immigrants in gaining an economic foothold in the host country may lead to anxiety and depression. Not surprisingly, a study of immigrant Chinese children in the United States showed more adjustment problems among those living in more economically stressful situations (Short & Johnston, 1997). Yet acculturation can lead to an erosion of traditional family networks, which in turn may increase vulnerability to psychological disorders in the face of stress (Ortega et al., 2000)
 All in all, factors such as economic opportunity, language proficiency, and connections to a social network of people whom one can identify with and draw support from may underlie the psychological adjustment of immigrant groups. Maintaining a sense of ethnic identity may also buffer the effects of stress (Ryder et al., 2000; Thompson et al., 2000). Studies of Asian Americans show that establishing contacts with the majority culture while maintaining one's ethnic identity generates less stress than withdrawal and separation (Huang, 1994). Withdrawal fails to prepare the individual to make the necessary adjustments to function effectively in a multicultural society. But we should not be surprised by evidence showing that Asian American adolescents with a stronger sense of ethnic identity tend to be better psychologically adjusted and to have higher self-esteem than their less affiliated counterparts (Phinney & Alipuria, 1990; Huang, 1994).
Complete the following activity about acculturative stress with your classmates. Refer to the selection to support your point of view.
1.Describe some of the factors which contribute to acculturative stress.
2.Compare the work of researchers about the likelihood of acculturated versus non-acculturated Hispanic-Americans would have in developing psychological problems.
3.Describe some of the difficulties immigrants might face if they become acculturated.
4.Identify some factors that lead to an acculturation experience with less stress and more psychological adjustment.