Testing Potential Buffers of The Acculturation Gap-Distress Relation Among Asian American College Students

Master's Thesis


As Asian immigrant families adapt to a new culture, the formation of an acculturation gap between parents and their children is a common stressor and is generally associated with poor mental health outcomes in children. The current study tested a moderation model in which culturally-relevant coping strategies (i.e., primary/secondary control and interpersonal/intrapersonal implicit social support) were hypothesized to attenuate the relation between acculturative family distancing (AFD; Hwang, 2006) and depressive symptoms, somatization, and alcohol use. It was also hypothesized that participants would engage in more secondary (vs. primary) control coping. Data were collected from 150 Asian American college students using an online survey. Results indicated that AFD was significantly associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms but not with somatization and alcohol use. No significant differences in levels of primary versus secondary control coping were found. Finally, the coping strategies did not buffer the relation between AFD and distress; however, post-hoc analyses revealed that interpersonal implicit social support exacerbated the relation between AFD and depressive symptoms. The present study offers important replication data for AFD, a relatively new theoretical model of the acculturation gap that highlights more proximal sources of risk in terms of how parent-child dynamics in immigrant families can be associated with psychological distress. The association between AFD and depressive symptoms underscores the importance of attending to linguistic and cultural value discrepancies in parent-child relationships when working with Asian American college students in clinical settings.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-04122011-131115

Author May Kim
Advisor Irene J. K. Park
Contributor Irene J. K. Park, Committee Chair
Contributor Thomas V. Merluzzi, Committee Member
Contributor Scott M. Monroe, Committee Member
Degree Level Master's Thesis
Degree Discipline Psychology
Degree Name MA
Defense Date
  • 2011-01-18

Submission Date 2011-04-12
  • United States of America

  • Asian American college students

  • parent-child relationships

  • distress

  • acculturation gap

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility and Access Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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