Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology
Dr. Samuel T. Beasley
Dr. Mary Z. Anderson
Dr. Betty D. Dennis
Prior literature on immigrants has focused on the impact of acculturation for groups such as Asians and Hispanic or Latinx immigrants (Orjiako & So, 2014; Sall, 2019). Compared to these two groups, the literature on Black immigrants’ experience of acculturation is scarce. In addition to the minimum visibility of Black immigrants in the acculturation literature, there is also limited knowledge relating to differences in the ethnic identity and racial identity of Black immigrants because these immigrants are often grouped monolithically with minimum attention to their diverse countries of origin. Understanding the influence of acculturation, ethnicity, and race is important because Black immigrants undergo significant changes in their transition to the US in addition to their new status as racial minorities. Past scholarship has found that living as a racial minority in the US society may heighten an immigrant’s sense of ethnic identity, which may increase or decrease at various periods in one’s life (Choi et al., 2001; Schwartz & Zamboanga, 2008; Schwartz et al., 2010).
Due to the gap in the literature on acculturation amongst Black immigrants and the monolithic approach to understanding ethnicity and race in these immigrants, the present study explored acculturation, race, and ethnicity in three generations of Liberians and Liberian Americans in the US. More specifically, the study examined differences in acculturation, ethnic identity, and racial identity between first-, 1.5-, and second-generation Liberian immigrants and their children.
The study’s sample consisted of 277 participants (168 male, 109 female) who selfidentified as Liberian or Liberian American residing in the US for a minimum of two years and under an immigration status of non-visitor. The instruments used in this study included a demographic questionnaire, Stephenson Multigroup Acculturation Scale (SMAS; Stephenson, 2000), The Ethnic Identity Scale (EIS; Umaña-Taylor, Yazedjian, & Bámaca-Gómez, 2004), and Cross Racial Identity Scale (CRIS; Vandiver et al., 2000). Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) as well as Multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) tests were conducted to test the study’s hypotheses.
Results indicated there were statistically significant mean group differences between first- and second-generation Liberians on the acculturation (Ethnic Society Immersion, Dominant Society Immersion) subscales with first-generation immigrants scoring higher on both the dominant and ethnic subscale than second-generation. Additionally, the 1.5-generation Liberians had higher scores than second-generation Liberians on both subscales. In terms ethnic identity (Exploration, Resolution), results showed statistically significant group differences between first and second-generation, with first-generation Liberians scoring higher than second-generation Liberians on the exploration subscale. For the resolution subscale, there were also statistically significant mean group differences between first- and 1.5-generation, with first-generation Liberians scoring higher than 1.5, as well as first-generation scoring higher than second-generation Liberians on the same subscale. Finally, results from the racial identity measure showed differences between first- and 1.5-generation Liberians on the Pre-Encounter Assimilation subscale, first- and 1.5-generation Liberians on the Pre-Encounter Self-Hate subscale as well as first- and second-generation on the same subscale. On both subscales, first-generation scores were higher than 1.5- and second-generation Liberians. The ImmersionEmersion Anti-White subscale showed group differences between first- and 1.5-generation Liberians, and first- and second-generation Liberians. On the Immersion-Emersion Anti-White subscale, 1.5- and second-generation scored higher than their first-generation counterparts. Additionally, there were mean differences between first- and 1.5- generation Liberians, as well as first- and second-generation Liberians on the Internalization Afrocentricity subscale with 1.5- and second-generation scoring higher than first-generation. Finally, there were mean difference between first- and 1.5-generation Liberians on the Internalization Multiculturalist Inclusive subscale as well as first and second on the same subscale. First-generation scores were higher on the Internalization Multiculturalist Inclusive subscale than both 1.5- and second-generation Liberians. Additionally, other results from a MANCOVA indicated that age at the time of immigration did not influence acculturation, ethnic identity, or racial identity. However, there were group differences between length of time lived in the US and generations acculturation, ethnic identity, and racial identity.
These findings suggest that different generations of Liberians and Liberian Americans in the US hold different perception of themselves. These various perceptions provide insight to how they experience the world in which they live in versus how the world experiences and perceives them. Furthermore, these findings also suggest that the differences between generations of Liberians can potentially impact identity development as well as intergenerational family dynamics. Interpretation of the findings, study limitations, research and clinical implications, are further explored.
Gibson, Breezie J., "Exploring Generational Difference of Acculturation, Ethnic Identity and Racial Identity in Liberian Immigrants and Their Children Living in the United States" (2021). Dissertations. 3759.