Younger immigrants adapt to new cultures faster

Immigrants moving to a new country in a young age are relatively quick to adjust to new environment, cultures and way of life, the study by Steven Heine, a cultural psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver reveals.

The study maintains that those aged below 15 years find it relatively easier to adjust in the new country.

Published in a journal of Association for Psychological Science – Psychological Science, the study reveals that there are numerous aspects of development and learning which can be acquired only by a particular age.

The study was co-written by Benjamin Y. Cheung and Maciej Chudek, two students of Professor Steven Heine, who had immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong and Poland respectively.

The study involved 232 people who had immigrated to Vancouver from Hong Kong at different ages ranging from infancy to around 50 years.

And these survey respondents were asked questions regarding their identification with the culture in their country of origin as well as the country to which they had immigrated.

The findings show that immigrants who had come to Canada before attaining the age of 15 years identified more with the culture of their new nation than those who had come to Canada at a relatively older age.

So, the study summarized that the younger the immigrants are at the time of immigration, the faster is their identification with the Canadian culture with every successive year spent in Canada. Heine stated that our respective cultures are directly responsible behind shaping up of our thinking process.

Hence, acculturation is a difficult process and cannot be achieved easily by people, he asserted. Citing the example of one of his students and an immigrant to Canada, Heine states that younger children adapt quickly to new environment.

Cheung, who came to Canada at the age of 8, plays hockey like a typical Canadian while his 14-year-old cousin, who had moved to Canada does not do so.

The researchers plan to study whether the same theory holds good for immigrants from other cultures or not.

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