Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Kuo, Ben (Psychology)






The present research represents an expansion of the acculturation gap-distress model by investigating the role of acculturation discrepancies in the adjustment of Vietnamese and Chinese young adults. A concurrent mixed-method nested, quantitative dominant design was employed. A comparison between actual and perceived sibling acculturation discrepancy was also examined as well as differences between Vietnamese and Chinese young adults on the key study variables. Thematic analysis of the qualitative data was conducted to further shed light on the quantitative findings. Two samples were collected: the main data set comprised of 150 Vietnamese and Chinese young adults and the sibling pairs data set comprised of 18 pairs of siblings. Questionnaires on self-reported and perceived bilinear acculturation, sibling relationship quality, psychological adjustment, intercultural adjustment difficulties and demographic data were administered online. Qualitative data was collected using eight open-ended questions regarding sibling acculturation discrepancy and sibling relations. Quantitative results showed that sibling acculturation discrepancy uncorrelated with psychological adjustment or intercultural adjustment difficulties. Further, sibling conflict moderated the relationship between perceived sibling heritage acculturation discrepancy and intercultural competence difficulties and predicted psychological adjustment. Analyses also revealed that siblings accurately perceived acculturation discrepancies. Further, actual and perceived acculturation discrepancy were both associated with psychological adjustment and intercultural competence difficulties. Finally, Chinese young adults were more likely to report higher heritage acculturation and sibling warmth than Vietnamese young adults. Qualitative results revealed seven themes of which three were related to the quantitative results. First, siblings defined acculturation in both multi-factorial and bilinear terms. A multi-factorial and bilinear approach to acculturation measurement may have enhanced the present study. In addition, siblings were aware of differences in acculturation between themselves, but they employed many strategies to cope with perceived acculturation differences to help mitigate sibling conflict and distress. The association between sibling conflict and psychological adjustment found in this study may be related to the way siblings cope with acculturation differences. This study expands upon the acculturation gap-distress model to include siblings as an important context within which to study immigrant adjustment and adaptation. The implications of its findings are discussed.