Chinese international students' cross-cultural adjustment in the U.S. : the roles of acculturation strategies, self-construals, perceived cultural distance, and English self-confidence
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Among all the international students enrolled in the U.S. colleges or universities, Chinese international students, including those who come from Taiwan, mainland China, and Hong Kong, accounted for 16.7%, which is a fairly high percentage (Institute of International Education, 2004). They may encounter very unique acculturative stress because of different cultural norms and academic expectations between Chinese and American cultures. Ward and her colleagues (1990) claimed that cross-cultural adjustment can be best examined from two fundamental dimensions: psychological and sociocultural adjustment. These two dimensions are conceptually distinct but empirically related. The purpose of the present study is to investigate the influences of acculturation strategies (Berry, 1980), self-views in relation to others (Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Kagitcibasi, 1996 & 2005), perceived cultural distance (Babiker et al., 1980), and English self-confidence (Clement & Baker, 2001) on different dimensions of Chinese international students’ cross-cultural adjustment. Research questions and hypotheses were focused on how each factor affects the cross-cultural adjustment, and how these factors interact with each other as they generate impacts on adjustment. 177 international students of Chinese heritage from Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong participated in the study. They were asked to fill out self-report questionnaires about their demographic information, acculturation strategies, self-construals, perceived cultural distance, English self-confidence, and psychological and sociocultural adjustment in the U.S. Results indicated that length of residence in the U.S., participation in the host society (one dimension of acculturation strategies), direct communication, autonomy (sub-dimensions of independent self-construal), and English self-confidence were positively correlated with psychological adjustment. On the other hand, length of residence, marital status, direct communication (a sub-dimension of independent self-construal), perceived cultural distance, and English self-confidence were positively associated with sociocultural adjustment. In addition, a few mediating effects were revealed: (a) Independent self-construal mediated the relation between participation in the U.S. society and sociocultural adjustment; (b) English self-confidence mediated the relation between participation in the host society and cross-cultural adjustment; (c) English self-confidence mediated the relation between independent self-construal and sociocultural adjustment. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.