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Many Asian countries are greatly influenced by Confucianism and are labelled Confucian Heritage Culture (CHC) countries (Tan & Yates, 2010). Confucianism incorporates teachings of filial piety, respect for elders, emphasis of social values, benevolence, and the importance of education ("Confucius”; Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2021). In CHC countries and other Asian countries like India, bringing honor and pride to one’s family is highly valued. In India, bringing honor to one’s family through obtaining a career with a higher salary could be perceived as a form of duty to one’s family. These values are taught and emphasized at an early age, which later becomes internalized as one’s own (Gupta & Tracey, 2005). Among CHC countries, academic achievement is perceived as the responsibility of the child and is also a symbol of pride for the family (Wong et al., 2005; Yeh & Huang, 1996). Past studies have found that students in Confucian Heritage Culture (CHC) countries such as China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea demonstrate high amounts of academic stress, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and low self-esteem (Genshaft & Broyles, 1991; McGuire & Mitic 1987; Tan & Yates, 2010; Lee, 2015).
Despite these findings, there is a gap in research examining the relationship between cultural influences and beliefs on mental health outcomes of the Asian population. Therefore, the present study examined the relationship between Asian cultural values on attitudes towards academic achievement and mental health status. The present study also examined whether COVID-19 may exacerbate stress related to academic achievement for Asian and Asian American students. This study used a survey research methodology and recruited participants from Western Michigan University who were Asian International and Asian American students (age 18 and older). The results demonstrated some significant associations between Asian cultural values and attitudes toward academic achievement. However, there was no significant relationship found between Asian cultural values on mental health status. Similarly, COVID-19 did not seem to exacerbate stress related to academic achievement for Asian and Asian American students. Through additional analyses, the results demonstrated a relationship between academic stress and mental health status, and a relationship between pandemic-related stress with mental health status as well.
Overall, some of the findings in the present study were aligned with past literature. For example, we found that higher levels of Asian cultural values were associated with high levels of stress related to academic expectations (Genshaft & Broyles,1991; McGuire & Mitic, 1987; Tan and Yates, 2010). However, the study had several limitations such as a small sample size, methodology used, and social and environmental influences that could be confounding variables. Future studies should extend this research by using a predictive model instead of only bivariate analyses. Findings from this study was beneficial to increase the awareness of cultural value influences on mental health status for the Asian population.
Syazania, Firzana, "Impact of Cultural Perceptions of Education on Mental Health Outcomes Among Asian and Asian-American Students" (2023). Honors Theses. 3658.
Honors Thesis-Open Access