“It has cost me a lot to adapt to here”: The divergence of real acculturation from ideal acculturation impacts Latinx immigrants’ psychosocial wellbeing.

The wellbeing of Latinx immigrants in the United States varies widely. Immigrants’ changes and maintenance of their cultures, a process known as acculturation, has been postulated to explain differences in wellbeing. However, the mechanisms by which acculturation impacts wellbeing are not fully understood. This study sought to understand the relation between acculturation and wellbeing through a person-environment fit lens, with the hypothesis that the better immigrants can acculturate in ways they prefer (e.g., taking on the practices, values, and identifications they desire), the better their self-reported wellbeing. An explanatory mixed-method approach was used to examine this hypothesis. Four hundred thirty-eight Latinx immigrants (ages 18–77, M = 37.88) who had lived in the United States for less than a year to 55 years (M = 16.75 years) completed survey measures in Arizona, New Mexico, Maryland, and Virginia. A subset (n = 73) participated in 12 focus groups. The sample included naturalized citizens (31.0%) along with authorized (33.2%) and unauthorized (35.8%) immigrants, and matched community immigration patterns. Data were analyzed through path analyses and constructivist grounded theory methods. Results indicated that the better Latinx immigrants could acculturate in the ways they preferred, the better their wellbeing. This relation was explained, in part, through lower levels of acculturative stress. This research suggests that practitioners and policymakers should consider ways to support immigrants to acculturate in the ways they desire as opposed to solely focusing their efforts on particular acculturation strategies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)