Skip to main content

Pursuing goals you really want: Motive congruence and well-being in Turkish immigrants

Final Report Summary - ACCULTURATION (Pursuing goals you really want: Motive congruence and well-being in Turkish immigrants)

It is well known that migration brings about profound changes in people’s lives, which can lead to stress. The process of adapting to the host society and to organize their lives in this new context is generally referred to as acculturation. While many antecedents of and influences on this process have been studied, most research relies on an individual’s self-reported account of what has led to higher or lower well-being.
This Marie Curie project set out to add a further dimension to the investigation of immigrants’ well-being: research from the intersection of motivational and cross-cultural psychology has revealed that people all over the world become unhappy or even depressed when their explicit goals are incongruent with their implicit needs (Baumann, Kaschel & Kuhl, 2005; Hofer &Chasiotis, 2003; Hofer, Chasiotis& Campos, 2006). If an individual’s implicit motivation is at odds with consciously desired, explicit goals, this tension is experienced as emotional distress (Winter, 1996).
This link is particularly important during stressful life events typical for immigrants, like relocation and loss of social contacts. For example, immigrants who self-reportedly seek assimilation into the host culture, but still feel unhappy and homesick, may experience a discrepancy between explicit motives and their strong, implicit attachment to their culture of origin (Sam, 2006). We have therefore suggested that a simultaneous assessment of implicit motives and explicit goals is necessary for a more comprehensive understanding of migrants’ psychological outcomes.
To complement the focus on motivation and acculturation orientation we furthermore set out to also investigate the role of identity (Marcia, 1980) as a determinant of well-being. It has been shown that motive congruence is not only related to well-being, but also to the identity status of an individual (Hofer, Busch, Chasiotis, &Kiessling, 2006), and that ethnic identity, in turn, is also related to well-being (Liebkind, 2006). Furthermore, identity formation and acculturation orientation share conceptual similarities in so far as both are concerned with negotiate between an exploration into the non-parental host culture and a commitment or maintenance of the parental culture. We suggest that an alignment between both (e.g. actively maintaining one’s culture of origin and taking over parental views of one’s identity) are more beneficial for experiences of well-being than mismatching constellations (e.g. taking over views from one’s parents while at the same time actively exploring the host society).
The inclusion of these areas (motivation, acculturation, and identity) has led to the formulation of a comprehensive path model towards the experience of psychological well-being (see Figure 1).