Does Construing relate to Acculturation Attitudes and Psychological Well-being in Polish Immigrants in the U.K?
There is evidence for increased rates of psychoses and mood disorders in immigrant populations, with some contradictory findings showing that migrants have better mental health outcomes than their native-born counterparts. Explanatory theories considered individual and contextual factors. Acculturation processes are regarded to play an important part, but again there are contradictory findings. The relationships between immigration, acculturation and mental health are complex and more explorations are needed. The aim of this study was to explore whether construing before and after emigration was related to acculturation processes and mental health in Polish immigrants in the U.K. Forty adult immigrants participated in this study; measures of psychological well-being, cultural attitudes, and repertory grid interviews were used. Participants reported positive attitudes towards Polish and British cultures, significantly more positive attitudes towards the heritage culture. As a group, participants compared favourably to their counterparts living in Poland in terms of levels of psychological well-being. They also construed themselves more favourably following emigration. Nevertheless 20% of participants reported a history of mental health difficulties. Nearly half (45%) of participants reported clinically significant levels of distress, which is more than double the national prevalence rate in the U.K. The main findings of this study indicated a relationship between how Polish migrants construe themselves and significant others, their psychological adjustment and cultural attitudes. More positive attitudes towards Polish culture were associated with higher levels of positive affect. A positive view of Polish culture was associated with a relatively more salient construing pre-emigration. Contrary to the prediction, high levels of conflict in construing of significant others before emigration was related to a positive view of Polish culture. A relatively more conflicted view of self post-emigration was related to less positive attitudes towards British culture. As predicted, more structured construing post-emigration was linked with better mental health outcomes. Furthermore, a relatively more favourable view of self following immigration was associated with higher levels of positive affect and fewer symptoms of psychological distress. The latter was also linked with relatively lower levels of conflict in construing of 'self after emigration'. Case examples are presented. Recommendations for clinical practice and further research are made.