Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Exploring the Past, Present, and Future of Cultural Competency Research: The Revision and Expansion of the Sociocultural Adaptation Construct

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posted on 2021-11-13, 11:22 authored by Wilson, Jessie Kaye

International migration trends have heralded a marked increase in intercultural contact, creating a greater need for effective cultural competency in both inter- and intra-cultural situations. The current research programme, positioned within the field of acculturation psychology, examined a specific behavioural aspect of cultural competency known as sociocultural adaptation. Defined as an individual’s acquisition and expression of culturally appropriate behavioural skills used to negotiate interactive aspects of a new cultural setting, an in-depth examination of the sociocultural adaptation construct was provided. Three studies addressed issues concerning the review, revision, and expansion of work on the topic of cross-cultural behavioural competency. Study 1 offered a meta-analytic review of the correlates or antecedents of sociocultural adaptation. Results emphasised the importance of individual differences, such as personality characteristics and motivation, in relation to adaptation difficulties. Suggestions were also provided for future theoretical and applied research regarding how demographic (e.g, age, gender), situational (e.g., language proficiency), and individual differences (e.g., cross-cultural empathy) components relate to and influence an individual’s successful cross-cultural adjustment. Study 2 examined the operationalisation of behavioural competency through revision of an existing measure of sociocultural adaptation (the Sociocultural Adaptation Scale or SCAS) and investigated five adjustment domains: Ecological, interpersonal, personal interests and community involvement, language, and professional/work adjustment. The final study sought to corroborate the factor structure of the revised SCAS and explored the effects of migration motivation and perceived discrimination—two underrepresented variables in the acculturation literature—in relation to cross-cultural adjustment using path analysis techniques. Direct linkages were found between migration motivation and positive psychological outcomes, and behavioural competency and discrimination were found to have significant mediating effects on the relationship between these two variables. The limitations and contributions of these studies are discussed in relation to the existing acculturation psychology literature, and new avenues for theoretical and applied applications of the findings are suggested.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Psychology


Ward, Colleen; Fischer, Ronald