AAJP’s June 2015 Feature Article: “Perceived Discrimination, Intergenerational Family Conflicts, and Depressive Symptoms in Foreign-Born and U.S.-Born Asian American Emerging Adults”

Asian American Journal of Psychology, Vol 6 No 2, (June 2015) Feature Article: Perceived Discrimination, Intergenerational Family Conflicts, and Depressive Symptoms in Foreign-Born and U.S.-Born Asian American Emerging Adults by Hsiu-Lan Cheng (New Mexico State University), Shu-Ping Lin (Tamkang University, New Taipei City, Taiwan) & Chu Hui Cha (New Mexico State University)

Hsiu-Lan Cheng, first author of the AAJP June 2015 issue's feature article

Hsiu-Lan Cheng, first author of the AAJP June 2015 issue’s feature article

Do you think your perspective or experiences of being racially discriminated are different from those of your family members, particularly those from a different generation? Has such difference ever led to disagreement or conflicts? How do you think these types of experience, either of being discriminated or in conflicts with your family, affect your mental health? As the sociocultural and political conversations on racial discrimination rage on in America in 2015, one does not have to look far to discover the long and elaborate streams of literature detailing the negative psychological consequences of discrimination. Against this backdrop, Cheng, Lin, and Cha (2015) extend these streams in the current June 2015 issue of the Asian American Journal of Psychology. Cheng and colleagues broaden our knowledge on the mechanisms through which discrimination negatively impacts mental health among Asian American and immigrant college students. Recognizing the interrelated and dynamic nature of contextual factors at various levels, Dr. Cheng and her colleagues cleverly hypothesize family conflict as a mediation between discrimination and depressive symptoms.

Drawing from her five years of clinical experiences as a staff psychologist at a large university counseling center before transitioning to a research-oriented academic career and also from personal experience as a first-generation immigrant, Dr. Cheng understood very well how intergenerational conflicts represent a powerful and complex influence particularly in Asian American and immigrant families where these issues are further compounded by identity development as racial minorities. Different individuals and different generations approach racial identity development in distinctive ways and the resulting dissonance in this process potentially contributes to family conflicts. Racial discrimination then embodies a prime example of intergenerational disagreement, which, like experiences of discrimination, also predicts more depressive symptoms.

This article is a fascinating read if you are interested in how different levels of ecological factors can influence each other, in a mediational fashion in this instance, to ultimately influence mental health on the individual level. Other specific explorations in the study included investigating both father and mother and at both first and second generation Asian immigrant and Americans differentially. More generally, the article also succinctly yet thoroughly reviews some of the most recent literature on associations between perceived discrimination, family conflict, and depression. So help yourself stay informed on the latest findings on how race relates to family and mental health!

Feature written by Ming-Che Tu, Chair of AAPA’s Division of Students, for Asian American Psychological Association

The latest Table of Contents can be accessed here: http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=browsePA.volumes&jcode=aap

2 Comments

  • Ryon C. McDermott says:

    Dr. Cheng’s research is always top-notch, so it’s no surprise to see this as the featured article. I think one of the most interesting findings is the fact that family conflict was a mediator of these associations for both foreign and U.S. born emerging adult college students. These findings suggest that experiencing racism may create family conflict and mental health problems in Asian college students. I hope to see a follow up study in which Dr. Cheng and her colleagues explore how experiences of racism are transformed into family conflict. Great work, as always!

Leave a Reply