DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2012.00647

Acta Psychologica Sinica (心理学报) 2012/44:5 PP.647-663

The Effect of Social Support and Social Identity on the Relationship Between Perceived Discrimination and Socio-cultural Adjustment Among Chinese Migrant Children

Presently in China, there are about 19.82 million children under 18 years who migrated with their parents from rural areas to the cities. Literature suggested that a majority of migrant children once suffered discrimination from some of urban residents and their schoolmates. It is widely accepted that exposure to discrimination is a risky factor for psychological and behavioral problems and there are several theoretical perspectives to explain how stigma influences individual adaptation. For instance, Phenomenological variant of ecological systems theory is presented as a theoretical framework to integrate issues of context (eg. discrimination), coping, and identity in human development. Social support deterioration model indicates that certain types of events, especially traumatic or stigmatizing events, lead to a decrease in effective social support, which further leads to an increase in psychological distress. Social identity theory suggests that recognition of dominant group discrimination against one’s social group increases in-group identification in an effort to maintain a positive self-image. This study was aimed to explore the effect of social support and social identity on the relationship between perceived discrimination and socio-cultural adjustment among Chinese Migrant Children. We would examine four hypotheses: (1) Perceived discrimination was negatively correlated with socio-cultural adaptation; (2) Social support would partially mediate the association between perceived discrimination and socio-cultural adaptation; (3) Social identity would moderate the relation between perceived discrimination and socio-cultural adaptation; (4)The mediating effect of social support could be moderated by social identity. Based on cluster sampling, 1164 migrant children from 5 public schools and 1 migrant children school in Beijing were recruited to participate in this study. Data of demographic information (including gender, grade, school types, social economic status), perceived discrimination, social support, social identity (including native vs. resident identification), and socio-cultural adjustment were collected through a self-administrated questionnaire. The data were analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA or MANOVA), Pearson correlations and hierarchical linear regression. Results were as follows: (1) The perception of being discriminated was not obvious among migrant children and their socio-cultural adaptation was good in general; (2) Socio-cultural adjustment could be significantly predicted by perceived discrimination with the β coefficient being -.39; (3)Social support had partial medicating effect on the negative relation of perceived discrimination and socio-cultural adaptation; (4)Resident identification intensified the relationship between perceived discrimination and socio-cultural adaptation, which was attenuated by native identification otherwise; (5)The mediation of social support was moderated by social identity, i.e., social support was a moderated mediator. The results of this study suggested that the theoretical perspectives of phenomenological variant of ecological systems theory, social support deterioration model and social identity theory could be supported in our sample of migrant children. Furthermore, the results implicated some advisable measures for future intervention in discrimination against migrant children, i.e., it is quite important to reduce their stigma perception, to increase their social support and to maintain medium level of native identification and resident identity in coping with discrimination in order to improve migrant children’s socio-cultural adjustment.

Key words:migrant children,perceived discrimination,socio-cultural adjustment,social support,social identity

ReleaseDate:2014-07-21 16:30:43