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Tridimensional Acculturation and Adaptation Among Jamaican Adolescent–Mother Dyads in the United States


  • Gail Ferguson is now at the Department of Human and Community Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.This research was supported by Faculty Development Funds awarded by Knox College and by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH, NICHD. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the 2011 biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal, Canada, and at the 2010 biennial meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development, Lusaka, Zambia. We thank Michael C. Lambert and Diane Putnick for methodological and statistical consultation. In addition, we thank Tamika Murray, Colleen Harden, and Christy Starr for their dedicated research assistance and all participants and participating institutions for their generosity. Special thanks also to the Jamaican Diaspora of the Midwestern U.S. and the Honorary Consul of Jamaica in Chicago, Lloyd Hyde, for support and assistance in sample recruitment.

concerning this article should be addressed to Gail M. Ferguson, Department of Human and Community Development, Doris Kelley Christopher Hall, MC-081, 904 West Nevada Street, Room 2015, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 61801. Electronic mail may be sent to


A bidimensional acculturation framework cannot account for multiple destination cultures within contemporary settlement societies. A tridimensional model is proposed and tested among Jamaican adolescent–mother dyads in the United States compared to Jamaican Islander, European American, African American, and other Black and non-Black U.S. immigrant dyads (473 dyads, M adolescent age = 14 years). Jamaican immigrants evidence tridimensional acculturation, orienting toward Jamaican, African American, and European American cultures. Integration is favored (70%), particularly tricultural integration; moreover, Jamaican and other Black U.S. immigrants are more oriented toward African American than European American culture. Jamaican immigrant youth adapt at least as well as nonimmigrant peers in Jamaica and the United States. However, assimilated adolescents, particularly first generation immigrants, have worse sociocultural adaptation than integrated and separated adolescents.