Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Don Davis

Second Advisor

Kenneth G. Rice

Third Advisor

Cirleen DeBlaere

Fourth Advisor

Catherine Y. Chang

Abstract

Each year, many international students come to the United States from all over the world to further their education, and they have contributed a significant part to the economy. Adapting to a new culture can be challenging and that puts international students at a greater risk for experiencing mental health issues than students in general. Thus, the need for understanding cross-cultural adaptation for international students is becoming increasingly important. Social factors are one of the coping resources that have been suggested to benefit international student cross-cultural adaptation. Studying aboard causes disruption in international students’ social relationships that is compounded by a change in culture, where language, social norms, values may make it more difficult to form strong social bonds in a new environment. One social construct that may help explain why international students can deal with the increased stress and risk of changing cultural environments is social connectedness (Lee & Robins, 1995). Therefore, in Chapter 1, I conducted a narrative review of 15 studies of international students exploring associations of social connectedness with psychological adaptation and sociocultural adaptation drawing from a cross-culture adaptation model (Searle & Ward, 1990). The review highlighted social connection effects on various predictors in psychological and sociocultural domains to understand social connectedness effects on the international student cross-cultural adaptation process. In Chapter 2, I examined the effects of social factors (e.g., social support and social connectedness) on international students' acculturative stress from a bilinear perspective that was proposed by Berry et al.’s (1987) bi-dimensional model. A sample of 206 international students in the U.S. was collected from various resources. Hierarchical linear regression revealed that various types of social support and social connectedness are important predictors for acculturative stress as predicted. Specifically, social connectedness is the strongest predictor of acculturative stress. Also, I conducted a moderation analysis using the PROCESS Macro developed for SPSS to test the moderation effects proposed in Berry et al.’s (1987) theoretical work. I predicted that social connectedness would moderate the relationship between other social factors and acculturative stress. The results of moderation analysis were partially supported. Implications and recommendations are discussed.

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