The Role of Dialectical Self and Bicultural Identity Integration in Psychological Adjustment


  • This project was supported in part by the General Research Fund (PolyU 5412/08H) from the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.
  • ICREA is the Catalan Institute for Advanced Research and Studies.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sylvia Xiaohua Chen, Department of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong, S.A.R., China. Email:



We applied the concept of naïve dialecticism (Peng & Nisbett, 1999), which characterizes East Asians’ greater tendency to encompass contradictory, ever-changing, and interrelated features of an entity, to bicultural contexts and examined its effects on psychological well-being across various acculturating groups.


We administered questionnaire measures of the dialectical self, bicultural identity integration (BII; Benet-Martínez & Haritatos, 2005), and well-being to Hong Kong Chinese (N = 213) in Study 1 and Mainland Chinese (N = 239) in Study 2. In Study 3, a 4-week longitudinal study was conducted among Hong Kong Chinese (N = 173) to test the relationships of these variables over time. We then extended similar measures to new immigrants from Mainland China (N = 67) in Study 4 and Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong (N = 153) in Study 5.


Five studies converged to show that psychological adjustment was positively related to BII, but negatively related to the dialectical self. In Studies 1–3, dialecticism mediated the effect of BII on psychological adjustment among Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese bicultural individuals.


Our findings reveal the deleterious effects of tolerance for contradiction on well-being and differentiate biculturalism patterns of immigration-based and globalization-based acculturation.