My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: VI. Cultural Differences and the Intercultural Encounter
The degree of experienced acculturation stress is influenced by a large variety of individual, cultural and situational factors. Variables prior to acculturation are for instance, age, level of education, knowledge of language and personality. Cultural distance is another variable that is obviously linked to acculturation. A larger discrepancy on value orientations between two cultures is likely to create higher levels of acculturation stress. During the acculturation process itself we may add factors such as coping strategies, societal attitudes, and the availability of social support. Social support is of utmost importance for psychological well-being during acculturation, and needed from members of the original culture as well as from members of the other culture. A bulk of research demonstrates that the acculturation process has affective, behavioral and cognitive aspects. The affective aspects include those psychological processes involved in coping with cultural change, with the outcome of psychological adjustment. The behavioral aspects include processes involved in acquiring particular skills, with the outcome of socio-cultural adaptation. The cognitive aspects include the processes involved in developing, changing and maintaining identity, with the outcome of cultural identity and intergroup perceptions. These aspects are to some extent interdependent, with cognitions ultimately manifesting themselves in the affective and behavioral domains (Linley & Joseph, 2004).
Although the intercultural encounter may be a major challenge and highly stressful, its outcome is not necessarily negative. We know that personal growth can result from a variety of life crises and/or adverse situations (Schaefer & Moos, 1992; Ward et al., 2001) from having a minority status (Ryff et al., 2003), or from other forms of intercultural encounters (Montuori & Fahim, 2004).