The Role of Acculturation-Related and Acculturation Non-Specific Daily Hassles: Vietnamese-Canadian Students and Psychological Distress

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Abstract

The study focussed on the separation of acculturation-related daily hassles and acculturation non-specific hassles in their contribution to psychological distress. Thirty male and 30 female university students who were Vietnamese immigrants to Canada completed measures of general hassles, family hassles, ingroup hassles (concerning interactions with Vietnamese ingroup members), and outgroup hassles (such as discrimination). The participants had a median age of 22 years; their median length of residence in Canada was 9.5 years. General hassles and ingroup and outgroup hassles were each positively related to depression; the number of years since immigrating to Canada was negatively related. In a simultaneous multiple regression analysis predicting depression, acculturation-specific ingroup hassles, number of years in Canada, and acculturation non-specific general hassles each contributed to the prediction. Number of years in Canada was found to moderate the relation of general hassles to depression. The varying importance of different categories of hassles across different ethnic groups and developmental stages was considered.

Individuals encounter a variety of stressful experiences in their lives. These experiences range from major life events (loss of a job) to more minor daily hassles. The latter include chronic irritants that we meet on a more frequent basis, irritants such as traffic congestion in commuting to work, not enough time to complete our tasks, and overly bureaucratic rules. The relation of these stressful life events to psychological distress is well established. Furthermore, general daily hassles are cumulative and may have an even greater influence on psychological distress, compared to major life events (DeLongis, Coyne, Dakof, Folkman, & Lazarus, 1982; Kanner, Coyne, Schaefer, & Lazarus, 1981; Monroe, 1983; Weinberger, Hiner, & Tierney, 1987).

Measures of daily hassles have recently been developed for specific populations. For example, there are scales designed for university students (Crandall, Preisler, & Aussprung, 1992; Kohn, Lafreniere, & Gurevich, 1990), referring to both academic-related mundane daily hassles and hassles which, although unrelated to academic work, are typically part of the lives of university students. There are also special hassles scales concerning certain aspects of the everyday lives of certain individuals. Crnic and Greenberg (1990) developed a measure of hassles for parents concerning their relationships with their children. The usefulness of this scale was demonstrated by its ability to contribute to the prediction of psychological distress beyond the contribution of general, nonparenting, daily hassles (Creasey & Reese, 1996). Utsey and Ponterotto (1996) have recently created a scale to assess the stress experienced by African Americans "as a result of their daily encounters with racism and discrimination." These measures of hassles relevant to particular groups and to particular aspects of their lives have proved to be important in understanding and predicting psychological distress.

Immigrants to a new country and culture would be expected to experience daily hassles which would be specific to their immigrant (and often minority) status and to the ongoing acculturation process. They may be faced with special chronic problems, not only in their relationships with the host society, but with their family and their group of peers (Berry, 1990; Dion & Dion, 1996). Immigrants may be troubled by their perceptions of prejudice and discrimination directed towards them and their ingroup by the larger society. Younger immigrants may experience conflict between their parents' cultural values and expectations and those of the host culture. Living in "two cultures," younger immigrants, particularly those from more collectivistic cultures with their emphasis on ingroup harmony (Triandis, 1994), may also face special problems in interaction with their ethnic ingroup peers. …