The double-edged sword of identification in Ukraine

“The double-edged sword of identification. The divergent effects of identification on acculturation stress among Ukrainian immigrants in Poland”

Michał Bilewicz, Magdalena Skrodzka, Justyna Olko, Tetyana Lewinska

The aim of the study was to contribute to the existing literature on social identification and acculturation stress by showing that for successful acculturation it is not only essential that people identify with their immigrant community, but that they identify with them in a specific way. Those aspects of identification that promote exclusivity (such as high ingroup centrality) seem to facilitate acculturation stress, whereas the more inclusive ones (ingroup ties and affect) seem to reduce it. Research on the ‘social cure’ points to the many positive outcomes of having strong social identifications for minority and immigrant groups. At the same time, identification is a multi- faceted psychological phenomenon, combining three dimensions: ingroup centrality, ingroup affect, and ingroup ties. After accessing the divergent effect of these three facets of social identification on acculturation stress, the study found that ingroup centrality was related to higher levels of acculturation stress, whereas positive ingroup affect and strong ingroup ties were related to lower acculturation stress. This suggests that those aspects of identification that promote exclusivity (ingroup centrality) can be maladaptive in the process of acculturation, whereas the more binding ones (ingroup ties and affect) facilitate acculturation.

We believe that any integration policies should take these issues into account and aim to promote ties between immigrant group members while respecting immigrant identities; at the same time, such policies should encourage immigrants to identify with other social groups so they can build more complex and inclusive identities that are helpful in fostering positive acculturation strategies and attenuating acculturation stress.