Asian and European American Cultural Values, Bicultural Competence, and Attitudes toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help among Asian American Adolescents

By Omizo, Michael M.; Kim, Bryan S. K. et al. | Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, January 2008 | Go to article overview
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Asian and European American Cultural Values, Bicultural Competence, and Attitudes toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help among Asian American Adolescents


Omizo, Michael M., Kim, Bryan S. K., Abel, Nicholas R., Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development


The authors examined the extent to which Asian American adolescents who were living in Hawaii adhered to Asian and European American cultural values in relation to mental health variables including collective self-esteem (membership, private, public, importance to identity), cognitive flexibility, general self-efficacy, and attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help. Results and implications for counselors are discussed.

Los autores examinaron hasta que medida los adolescentes Asiaticoamericanos residentes en Hawai se adhieren a los valores culturales Asiaticos y Euroamericanos en relacion a ciertas variables de salud mental que incluyen la autoestima colectiva (pertenencia, privada, publica, su importancia para la identidad), flexibilidad cognitiva, autoeficacia general y actitudes hacia la busqueda de ayuda psicologica profesional. Se discuten los resultados y las implicaciones para los consejeros.

********* To study the within-group diversity of the Asian American population in terms of their levels of cultural adaptation and retention, theorists and researchers have examined the constructs of acculturation and enculturation. Redfield, Linton, and Herskovits (1936) described acculturation as "those phenomena which result when groups of individuals sharing different cultures come into continuous first-hand contact, with subsequent changes in the original culture patterns of either or both groups" (p. 149). Herskovits (1948) referred to enculturation as the process of socialization to the norms of one's indigenous culture, including the values, ideas, and concepts that are salient for the culture. Recently, Kim and Abreu (2001) described acculturation as consisting of adaptation to the norms of the dominant group (i.e., European Americans) and enculturation as consisting of retention of the norms of the indigenous group.

For Asian American adolescents, important dimensions of acculturation and enculturation are adherence to Asian and to European American cultural values, where values refer to attitudes about what one thinks is desirable (see Atkinson, 2004). Asian cultural values that are salient for Asian Americans in general include collectivism, conformity to norms, deference to authority figures, emotional restraint, filial piety, and humility (Kim, Atkinson, & Yang, 1999). Regarding European American values, individualism, autonomy, future orientation, and mastery of the environment have been highlighted (see Atkinson, 2004). Current theories on cultural values have suggested that first-generation Asian American adolescents will adhere to Asian values more strongly than will their counterparts who are several generations removed from immigration (Atkinson, 2004). Similarly, it can be theorized that fifthgeneration Asian American adolescents will adhere to European American values more strongly than will recent immigrants to the United States.

The current literature on cultural adaptation and retention proposes that individuals who can adhere to the norms (including values) of both the indigenous and the dominant cultures may exhibit increased psychological functioning (LaFromboise, Coleman, & Gerton, 1993). These authors used the term bicultural competence to describe the process in which individuals are able to successfully meet the demands of two cultures. They described bicultural competence as including (a) knowledge of cultural beliefs and values of both cultures; (b) positive attitudes toward both groups; (c) communication ability in both cultures; (d) bicultural efficacy, or belief that one can live in a satisfying manner within both cultures without sacrificing one's cultural identity; (e) role repertoire, or the range of culturally appropriate behaviors; and (f) a sense of being grounded in both cultures. However, there is a virtual void of research that specifically addresses the relations between adherence to both Asian and European American cultural values (i.

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