The role of perceived cultural distance, personal growth initiative, language proficiencies, and tridimensional acculturation orientations for psychological adjustment among international students
We investigated the acculturation process of international students (N=319, 162 female) from 62 countries who were residing in the Netherlands, using the acculturation framework by Arends-Tóth and Van de Vijver (2007).We applied SEM to test the model that acculturation conditions (perceived cultural distance [PCD], personal growth initiative [PGI], proficiency in English and the host language, and length of residence) in conjunction with acculturation orientations as mediators (host, heritage, expatriate) predict psychological adjustment as acculturation outcome (acculturative stress, satisfaction with life, mental health problems). We found direct and indirect effects of acculturation conditions on adjustment; high PGI,high English and Dutch proficiencies, and low PCD were associated with better adjustment. Host orientation (predicted by high PGI, Dutch proficiency, and low PCD) was positively associated with adjustment. Heritage orientation (predicted by low English proficiency) was negatively associated with adjustment. As a novel aspect, we included expatriate orientation - an orientation towards other expatriates in the host community. Expatriate orientation was predicted by low Dutch proficiency and was positively associated with adjustment. We also observed direct links between acculturation conditions and outcomes: positive associations between PCD and acculturative stress and between length of residence and acculturative stress; and negative associations between PGI and mental health problems and between English proficiency and acculturative stress. We provide evidence that including expatriate orientation is relevant among international students: It is stronger than both host and heritage orientations, there by underlining the importance of studying acculturation in a contextualized way.