Investigating Generational Worldview Differences in Immigrants

Chaereen holding her computer.




Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology; Director, Positive Psychology Center

Project Summary

Along with Ria Chhabra (COL ‘19) and Sidia Mustapha (COL ‘19), I aimed to study the influence of primal world beliefs on first and second generation immigrants through this research project. Primals are beliefs that concern the world’s overall character rather than particular things within it, such as: the world is good (Clifton et al., 2018). Focusing on Indian, Korean, and West African Americans, our goal was to investigate significant generational worldview differences within and between these immigrant groups. We also explored how family satisfaction, life satisfaction, level of acculturation, and Martin Seligman’s PERMA model of happiness each played a role in such differences.

This project allowed me to apply the qualitative research methods I had only learned about in classroom settings in answering my own questions regarding the psychological well-being and adjustment experiences of immigrants in the United States. Having grown up in Los Angeles as a second generation Korean American myself (Southern California has the highest rate of immigration in the U.S.), I’ve always been interested in better understanding the effects of cultural background on how we perceive and act upon our day-to-day situations.

Through this research experience, I was able to gain new insight into how there is a growing need not only for studies that examine psychological processes amongst different immigrant groups, but also for policies and programs that focus on helping immigrants to cultivate more positive connections with their families and environments—and also to continue involvement in their ethnic cultures while still fostering the skills necessary to be successful in their host country.