COLLEGE STATION, TX - Family pressure on African-American college students to maintain their cultural identity while attending a predominantly white university increases the amount of stress experienced by these students, recent research suggests.
“Students go through what we call acculturation, in that they’re trying to reconcile the values with which they grew up with what’s in the university environment. They experience a certain amount of stress in the process, and it’s called acculturative stress,” says Keisha Thompson, a doctoral student in counseling psychology in the Department of Educational Psychology.
The article appears in the recent issue of International Journal for the Advancement of Counseling. Thompson’s co-authors include Linda Castillo, associate dean for research in the College of Education and Human Development, and counseling psychology doctoral students Nicole Lightfoot and Morgan Hurst.
Thompson says the majority of research in acculturative stress focuses on immigrants and people from other countries, but African-American college students also can face the same issue.
“Our findings indicate that participants experience some stress and report interpersonal distancing from their families based on family pressure not to change, pressure to maintain their ethnic group’s language, the perception of acting white and the belief that values are becoming different than their family’s values,” Thompson says.
“University administrators and counselors should be aware of the acculturation process and familial pressures that affect students while they are in the university setting,” she says.
About research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world’s leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents an annual investment of more than $582 million, which ranks third nationally for universities without a medical school, and underwrites approximately 3,500 sponsored projects. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world.