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Health Psychology & Behavioural Medicine

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coping, stress, acculturation, cultural, migrant




Given the continuous, dynamic demographic changes internationally due to intensive worldwide migration and globalization, the need to more fully understand how migrants adapt and cope with acculturation experiences in their new host cultural environment is imperative and timely. However, a comprehensive review of what we currently know about the relationship between coping behavior and acculturation experience for individuals undergoing cultural changes has not yet been undertaken. Hence, the current article aims to compile, review, and examine cumulative cross-cultural psychological research that sheds light on the relationships among coping, acculturation, and psychological and mental health outcomes for migrants. To this end, this present article reviews prevailing literature pertaining to: (a) the stress and coping conceptual perspective of acculturation; (b) four theoretical models of coping, acculturation and cultural adaptation; (c) differential coping pattern among diverse acculturating migrant groups; and (d) the relationship between coping variabilities and acculturation levels among migrants. In terms of theoretical understanding, this review points to the relative strengths and limitations associated with each of the four theoretical models on coping-acculturation-adaptation. These theories and the empirical studies reviewed in this article further highlight the central role of coping behaviors/ strategies in the acculturation process and outcome for migrants and ethnic populations, both conceptually and functionally. Moreover, the review shows that across studies culturally preferred coping patterns exist among acculturating migrants and migrant groups and vary with migrants’ acculturation levels. Implications and limitations of the existing literature for coping, acculturation, and psychological adaptation research are discussed and recommendations for future research are put forth.


This article was first published in Health Psychology & Behavioural Medicine, 2014 Vol. 2, No. 1, 16–33, More articles in this journal can be found at: