“It’s the Best of Both Worlds!”: Investigating Bicultural Stress in Adult Bicultural Canadians

Abstract views: 168 / PDF downloads: 57





biculturalism, bicultural stress, bicultural identity development, Canadian context


This study delves into the ecological factors that predict bicultural stress among bicultural adult Canadians while uncovering common themes surrounding their bicultural identity and developmental journey. A sample of bicultural Canadians (N = 147; 88% female, Mage = 20.72) participated in an online survey consisting of standardized self-report measures and open-ended inquiries about their bicultural experience. The study identified factors contributing to current levels of bicultural stress through regression analysis. Additionally, thematic analysis was conducted to explore participants’ narratives about their bicultural experiences. Participants were of diverse racial/ethnic Canadian backgrounds (Middle Eastern, n = 50; East and Southeast Asian, n = 22; South Asian, n = 27; Black, n = 21; multiple ethnicities, n = 22; Latin, n = 5). The regression results demonstrated that ethnic identity, family cultural socialization towards heritage culture, perceived discrimination, and generational status contributed to feelings of bicultural stress. Thematic analysis revealed a developmental trajectory encompassing participants’ realization of their bicultural identity, navigating bicultural stress, and cultivating an appreciation for their dual cultures. Findings suggest that bicultural individuals’ interactions with their social environment may develop their bicultural identity towards more positive outcomes as they approach adulthood.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Carolyn Tran, University of Windsor

Carolyn Tran, M.A., is a Ph.D. candidate in Applied Social Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Windsor, Windsor, Canada. She is a second-generation Canadian and a first-generation student. Her research examines the experiences of bicultural Canadians with racism and racial microaggressions in the education system.

Kathryn Lafreniere, University of Windsor

Kathryn Lafreniere, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Windsor, where she has been employed since 1991. She teaches courses in cultural diversity, community psychology, health psychology, and ethical issues. Her research examines individual and societal influences on health and well-being, with a particular focus on risk-taking behaviors.

Ben C.H. Kuo, University of Windsor

Ben C.H. Kuo, Ph.D., conducts studies and publishes in the areas of cross-cultural psychology and multicultural counselling/psychotherapy. His main research focuses on the topics of acculturation, cultural stress and coping, professional help-seeking attitudes and behaviors, and cultural adjustment and mental health issues among immigrants and culturally diverse populations in North America and internationally. Currently, Dr. Kuo teaches and supervises graduate students in clinical psychology programs through a multicultural psychotherapy practicum and a didactic multicultural counselling/psychotherapy course.

Kathryn Edmunds, University of Windsor

Kathryn Edmunds, Ph.D., RN, is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Windsor, Ontario. My teaching and research interests include using a critical theoretical perspective to explore relationships among displacement, gendered migration, structural violence, and health experienced by temporary agricultural workers in Canada using qualitative analysis, and how the concepts of culture, power and cultural safety are utilized in nursing and healthcare.


Abacioglu, C. S., Zee, M., Hanna, F., Soeterik, I. M., Fischer, A. H., & Volman, M. (2019). Practice what you preach: The moderating role of teacher attitudes on the relationship between prejudice reduction and student engagement. Teaching and Teacher Education, 86, Article 102887. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2019.102887 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2019.102887

Bailey, K. A. (2016). Racism within the Canadian university: Indigenous students’ experiences. Ethnic & Racial Studies, 39(7), 1261–1279. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2015.1081961 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2015.1081961

Beaulieu, R. (2016). A critical discourse analysis of teacher-student relationships in a third-grade literacy lesson: Dynamics of microaggression. Cogent Education, 3(1), 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1080/2331186X.2016.1244028 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/2331186X.2016.1244028

Berry, J. W., & Sabatier, C. (2011). The acculturation and adaptation of second generation immigrant youth in Toronto and Montreal. In S. S. Chuang and R. P. Moreno (Eds.), Immigrant children: Change: adaptation, and cultural transformation (pp. 125–148). Lexington Books.

Bertrand, M., & Mullainathan, S. (2004). Are Emily and Greg more employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A field experiment on labor market discrimination. American Economic Review, 94, 991–1013. https://doi.org/10.1257/0002828042002561 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1257/0002828042002561

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa DOI: https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Harvard University Press.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1994). Ecological models of human development. International encyclopedia of education, 3(2), 37–43.

Brown, C. (2011). Maintaining heritage language perspectives of Korean parents. Multicultural Education, 19(1), 31–37. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ986889.pdf

Canel-Çinarbas, D., & Yohani, S. (2019). Indigenous Canadian university students’ experiences of microaggressions. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, 41(1), 41–60. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10447-018-9345-z DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10447-018-9345-z

Cila, J., Lalonde, R. N., Sasaki, J. Y., Mar, R. A., & Lo, R. F. (2021). Zahra or Zoe, Arjun or Andrew? Bicultural baby names reflect identity and pragmatic concerns. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 27(3), 307–319. https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000420 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000420

Daha, M. (2011). Contextual factors contributing to ethnic identity development of second-generation Iranian American adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 26(5), 543–569. https://doi.org/10.1177/0743558411402335 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0743558411402335

Domenech Rodríguez, M. M., Donovick, M. R., & Crowley, S. L. (2009). Parenting styles in a cultural context: Observations of “protective parenting” in first-generation Latinos. Family Process, 48(2), 195–210. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1545-5300.2009.01277.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1545-5300.2009.01277.x

Erikson, E. H. 1. (1980). Identity and the life cycle. Norton.

Godley, J. (2018). Everyday discrimination in Canada: Prevalence and patterns. Canadian Journal of Sociology, 43(2), 111–142. https://doi.org/10.29173/cjs29346 DOI: https://doi.org/10.29173/cjs29346

Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. (2016, June 29). 150 years of immigration in Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-630-x/11-630-x2016006-eng.htm

Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. (2021a, September 30). Classification of generation status - 1 - First generation. https://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p3VD.pl?Function=getVD&TVD=117200&CVD=117200&CLV=0&MLV=1&D=1

Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. (2021b, November 1). Visible minority of person. https://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p3Var.pl?Function=DECI&Id=257515

Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. (2023, November 15). Census profile, 2021 Census f population. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2021/dp-pd/prof/index.cfm?Lang=E

Houshmand, S., & Spanierman, L. B. (2021). Mitigating racial microaggressions on campus: Documenting targets’ responses. New Ideas in Psychology, 63, Article 100894. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.newideapsych.2021.100894 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.newideapsych.2021.100894

Hughey, J., & Speer, P. W. (2002). Community, sense of community, and networks. In A. T. Fisher, C. C. Sonn, & B. J. Bishop (Eds.), Psychological sense of community: Research, applications and implications. (pp. 319–334). Kluwer/Plenum. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4615-0719-2_4

Kang, S. K., Decelles, K. A., Tilcsik, A., & Jun, S. (2016). Whitened résumés: Race and self-presentation in the labor market. Administrative Science Quarterly, 61(3), 469–502. https://doi.org/10.1177/0001839216639577 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0001839216639577

Khan, Z., & Bruschke, J. (2016). Media coverage of Muslims, perceived threats, ethnocentrism, and intercultural contact: Applying cultivation theory, integrated threat theory, and the contact hypothesis. Northwest Journal of Communication, 44(1), 7–34.

Kohli, R., & Solórzano, D. G. (2012). Teachers, please learn our names! Racial microaggressions and the K-12 classroom. Race Ethnicity and Education, 15(4), 441–462. https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2012.674026 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2012.674026

Kumar, R., Warnke, J. H., & Karabenick, S. A. (2014). Arab-American male identity negotiations: Caught in the crossroads of ethnicity, religion, nationality and current contexts. Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture, 20, 22–41. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504630.2013.864464 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13504630.2013.864464

Lim, S.-L., Yeh, M., Liang, J., Lau, A. S., & McCabe, K. (2008). Acculturation gap, intergenerational conflict, parenting style, and youth distress in immigrant Chinese American families. Marriage & Family Review, 45(1), 84–106. https://doi.org/10.1080/01494920802537530 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01494920802537530

McCord, A. L., Draucker, C. B., & Bigatti, S. (2019). Cultural stressors and depressive symptoms in Latino/a adolescents: An integrative review. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 25(1), 49–65. https://doi.org/10.1177/1078390318778885 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1078390318778885

Mchitarjan, I., & Reisenzein, R. (2015). The culture-transmission motive in immigrants: A world-wide internet survey. Plos One,10(11), Article e0141625. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0141625 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0141625

Meeuwisse, M., Severiens, S. E., & Born, M. P. (2010). Learning environment, interaction, sense of belonging and study success in ethnically diverse student groups. Research in Higher Education, 51(6), 528–545. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-010-9168-1 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-010-9168-1

Mills, J. (2001). Being bilingual: Perspectives of third generation Asian children on language, culture and identity. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 4(6), 383–402. https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050108667739 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050108667739

Nguyen, A. M. D., & Benet-Martínez, V. (2013). Biculturalism and adjustment: A meta-analysis. Journal of cross-cultural psychology, 44(1), 122–159. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022111435097 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022111435097

Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (2015). At what age do children attend school? https://settlement.org/ontario/education/elementary-and-secondary-school/general-information/at-what-age-do-children-attend-school/.

Onyekwuluje, A. B. (2000). Adult role models: Needed voices for adolescents, multiculturalism, diversity, and race relations. The Urban Review, 32(1), 67–85. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1005142818473 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1005142818473

Park, J. Z. (2008). Second-generation Asian American pan-ethnic identity: Pluralized meanings of a racial label. Sociological Perspectives, 51(3), 541–561. https://doi.org/10.1525/sop.2008.51.3.541 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/sop.2008.51.3.541

Phinney, J. S. (1990). Ethnic identity in adolescents and adults: Review of research. Psychological Bulletin, 108(3), 499–514. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.108.3.499 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037//0033-2909.108.3.499

Piña-Watson, B., Dornhecker, M., & Salinas, S. R. (2015). The impact of bicultural stress on Mexican American adolescents’ depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation: Gender matters. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 37(3), 342–364. https://doi.org/10.1177/0739986315586788 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0739986315586788

Piña-Watson, B., Ojeda, L., Castellon, N. E., & Dornhecker, M. (2013). Familismo, ethnic identity, and bicultural stress as predictors of Mexican American adolescents’ positive psychological functioning. Journal of Latina/o Psychology, 1(4), 204–217. https://doi.org/10.1037/lat0000006 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/lat0000006

Pyke, K., & Dang, T. (2003). “FOB” and “White-washed”: Identity and internalized racism among second generation Asian Americans. Qualitative Sociology, 26(2), 147–172. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022957011866 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022957011866

Roberts, R. E., Phinney, J. S., Masse, L. C., Chen, Y. R., Roberts, C. R., & Romero, A. (1999). The structure of ethnic identity of young adolescents from diverse ethnocultural groups. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 19(3), 301–322. https://doi.org/10.1177/0272431699019003001 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0272431699019003001

Romero A. J., & Campen K. V. (2011). Bicultural stress. In R. J. R. Levesque (Eds.), Encyclopedia of adolescence (pp. 263–274). Springer. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1695-2_158

Romero, A. J., & Roberts, R. E. (2003a). Bicultural Stressors Scale [Database record]. APA PsycTESTS. https:// doi.org/10.1037/t01768-000 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/t01768-000

Romero, A. J., & Roberts, R. E. (2003b). Stress within a bicultural context for adolescents of Mexican descent. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 9(2), 171–184. https://doi.org/10.1037/1099-9809.9.2.171 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/1099-9809.9.2.171

Romero, A. J., Carvajal, S. C., Valle, F., & Orduña, M. (2007). Adolescent bicultural stress and its impact on mental well-being among Latinos, Asian Americans, and European Americans. Journal of Community Psychology, 35(4), 519–534. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.20162 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.20162

Romero, A. J., Martinez, D., & Carvajal, S. C. (2007). Bicultural stress and adolescent risk behaviors in a community sample of Latinos and non-Latino European Americans. Ethnicity & Health, 12(5), 443–463. https://doi.org/10.1080/13557850701616854 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13557850701616854

Romero, A., Piña-Watson, B., Stevens, A. K., Schwartz, S. J., Unger, J. B., Zamboanga, B. L., Szapocznik, J., Lorenzo-Blanco, E., Cano, M. Á., Meca, A., Baezconde-Garbanati, L., Córdova, D., Villamar, J. A., Soto, D. W., Lizzi, K. M., Des Rosiers, S. E., Pattarroyo, M., & Oshri, A. (2020). Disentangling relationships between bicultural stress and mental well-being among Latinx immigrant adolescents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 88(2), 149–159. https://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000466 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000466

Sandhu, D. S., & Asrabadi, B. R. (1994). Development of an acculturative stress scale for international students: Preliminary findings. Psychological Reports, 75(1), 435–448. https://doi.org/10.2466/pr0.1994.75.1.435 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2466/pr0.1994.75.1.435

Schönpflug, U. (2009). Theory and research in cultural transmission: A short history. In U. Schönpflug (Ed.), Cultural transmission: Psychological, developmental, social, and methodological aspects (pp. 9–30). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511804670.003 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511804670.003

Schwartz, S. J., & Unger, J. B. (2010). Biculturalism and context: What is biculturalism, and when is it adaptive? Human Development, 53(1), 26–32. https://doi.org/10.1159/000268137 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1159/000268137

Schwartz, S. J., Unger, J. B., Baezconde‐Garbanati, L., Zamboanga, B. L., Córdova, D., Lorenzo-Blanco, E. I., & Szapocznik, J. (2015). Testing the parent-adolescent acculturation discrepancy hypothesis: A five-wave longitudinal study. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 26(3), 567–586. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12214. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12214

Shin, J. (2016). Hyphenated identities of Korean heritage language learners: Marginalization, colonial discourses and internalized whiteness. Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 15(1), 32–43. https://doi.org/10.1080/15348458.2016.1113815 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15348458.2016.1113815

Sladek, M. R., Doane, L. D., & Park, H. (2020). Latino adolescents’ daily bicultural stress and sleep: Gender and school context moderation. Health Psychology, 39(3), 179-189. https://doi.org/10.1080/15348458.2016.1113815 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0000824

Solomon, R. P. (1997). Race, role modelling, and representation in teacher education and teaching. Canadian Journal of Education, 22(4), 395–410. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1585791

Son, D., & Shelton, J. N. (2011). Stigma consciousness among Asian Americans: Impact of positive stereotypes in interracial roommate relationships. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 2(1), 51–60. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022651 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022651

Sue, C. A., & Telles, E. E. (2007). Assimilation and gender in naming. American Journal of Sociology, 112, 1383–1415. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/511801 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/511801

Sue, D. W., Capodilupo, C. M., Torino, G. C., Bucceri, J. M., Holder, A. M. B., Nadal, K. L., & Esquilin, M. (2007). Racial microaggressions in everyday life: Implications for clinical practice. American Psychologist, 62(4), 271–286. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.62.4.271 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.62.4.271

Syed, M., & Azmitia, M. (2008). A narrative approach to ethnic identity in emerging adulthood: bringing life to the identity status model. Developmental psychology, 44(4), 1012–1027. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.44.4.1012 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.44.4.1012

Tam, K. (2015). Understanding intergenerational cultural transmission through the role of perceived norms. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology,46(10), 1260–1266. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022115600074 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022115600074

Townley, G., Kloos, B., Green, E. P., & Franco, M. M. (2011). Reconcilable differences? Human diversity, cultural relativity, and sense of community. American Journal of Community Psychology, 47(1-2), 69–85. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-010-9379-9 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-010-9379-9

Trazo, T. A. A., & Kim, W. (2019). “Where are you from?”: Using critical race theory to analyze graphic novel counter-stories of the racial microaggressions experienced by two angry Asian girls. Intersections: Critical Issues in Education, 3(2), Article 6. https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/intersections/vol3/iss2/6

Umaña-Taylor, A. J., Bhanot, R., & Shin, N. (2006). Ethnic identity formation during adolescence. Journal of Family Issues, 27(3), 390–414. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X05282960 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X05282960

Umaña-Taylor, A. J., Quintana, S. M., Lee, R. M., Cross, W. E., Rivas-Drake, D., Schwartz, S. J., & Seaton, E. (2014). Ethnic and racial identity during adolescence and into young adulthood: An integrated conceptualization. Child Development, 85(1), 21–39. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12196. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12196

Vedder, P., & Phinney, J. S. (2014). Identity formation in bicultural youth: A developmental perspective. In V. Benet-Martínez & Y.-Y. Hong (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of multicultural identity (pp. 335–354). Oxford University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199796694.013.003

Wang, K. T., Wei, M., Zhao, R., Chuang, C.-C., & Li, F. (2015). The cross-cultural loss scale: Development and psychometric evaluation. Psychological Assessment, 27(1), 42–53. https://doi.org/10.1037/pas0000027 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/pas0000027

Wang, Y., Benner, A. D., & Kim, S. Y. (2015). The cultural socialization scale: Assessing family and peer socialization toward heritage and mainstream cultures. Psychological Assessment, 27(4), 1452–1462. https://doi.org/10.1037/pas0000136 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/pas0000136

Watson, S., Appiah, O., & Thornton, C. G. (2011). The effect of name on pre-interview impressions and occupational stereotypes: The case of Black sales job applicants. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41(10), 2405–2420. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00822.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00822.x

Wei, M., Wang, C., Ko, S. Y., Liu, S., & Botello, R. (2019). Bicultural stress and perceived benefits among Asian Americans: The roles of cognitive flexibility and making positive sense of adversity. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 10(4), 351–361. https://doi.org/10.1037/aap0000158 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/aap0000158

Zhao, X., & Biernat, M. (2017). “Welcome to the U.S.” but “change your name”? Adopting Anglo names and discrimination. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 70(Complete), 59–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2016.12.008 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2016.12.008




How to Cite

Tran, C., Lafreniere, K. ., Kuo, B. ., & Edmunds, K. (2024). “It’s the Best of Both Worlds!”: Investigating Bicultural Stress in Adult Bicultural Canadians. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 11(1), 58–79. https://doi.org/10.29333/ejecs/1870



Original Manuscript
Received 2023-09-28
Accepted 2024-01-20
Published 2024-02-04