The relationship between religious support and acculturative stress in second-generation Asian Indian American Christians
Varghese, Melvin Lal
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Asian Americans, the fastest-growing immigrant population in the United States (U.S.), experience significant acculturative stress when adapting to a Western culture (Shim & Schwartz. 2008; U.S. Census. 2007). Acculturative stress is magnified in second-generation Asian Americans given the pressure by mainstream society to integrate and by the native culture to retain Eastern values (Nisbett, 2004). Many immigrants rely upon support from members of their native religious community to counter the effects of acculturative stress. Religious support has been associated with decreased levels of depression, positive affect, and improved life satisfaction (Fiala, Bjorck, & Gorsuch, 2002; Lee, 2007). However, the role of religious community support and psychological functioning needs further investigation especially among various ethnic groups (Lazar & Bjorck, 2008). This researcher considered the relationship between religious support and social support and religious support and acculturative stress in second-generation Asian Indian American Christians (Lazar & Bjorck, 2008; Rangaswamy, 2000). One hundred forty-one second-generation Asian Indian American Christians completed measures of religious support, social support, and acculturative stress. Contrary to the existing literature that suggests religious support and social support are distinct constructs, the results of this study found a direct relationship between religious support and social support. In this sample, religious support and social support are likely complementary and related rather than distinct constructs. Also contrary to the existing literature that suggests a negative relationship between religious support and acculturative stress, this study found no significant relationship between religious support and acculturative stress. The results of this study have implications for researchers and mental health professionals who work with second-generation Asian Indians. Future researchers may consider the joint impact of religious and social support on acculturative stress among Asian Indian immigrants or use these results to make comparisons among denominations, between genders, geographic location, or the length of residency in the U.S. Clinicians can use the study's results to engage Asian Indians in their social context, to educate this population about mental health concerns, address the sources of acculturative stress, and develop strategies that help individuals remedy stressors.