Towards a Developmental, Psychological, and Contextual understanding of the Process of Third-Culture Kids Adjustment

Jones, EMJ. Towards a Developmental, Psychological, and Contextual understanding of the Process of Third-Culture Kids Adjustment. 2022, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Psychology.


Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/93710/

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This thesis presents my research on the mechanisms of adjustment in third-culture kids. The first section presents theoretical considerations that set the stage for the studies presented in the second section.
I first define our target and sample population, its characteristics, and problematics. I then discuss the strain on the sample in terms of risks or adverse childhood experiences and further develop the connection with an evolutionary perspective, developmental plasticity, and skill building. Adjustment and the processes involved are further discussed as well as models of transdiagnostic processes and adult expatriate adjustment. In the next part of the thesis, the summaries of the studies show how all three studies explored two goals: first, to better define and model the processes involved in TCK adjustment; and second to outline targets for preventative and targeted psychotherapeutic interventions to build skills. Our first study (Study I) was a systematic review (SR) of the literature that aimed to summarise the state of existing research and findings on predictors of TCK adjustment. The study proposed a code book that could be used for future research and models of TCK adjustment. The code book was extracted from the 14 retained studies in the SR and is proposed as a reading grid for the results of the presented studies. Predictors were organised into four categories: demographic and environmental, family, psychological, sociocultural. As the outcomes of adjustment, we identified psychological, sociocultural, and traits associated with a third-culture identity. We discussed limitations in the existing research and outlined directions for future research. The second study (Study II) explored the common and individual contributions of selected psychological processes on two outcomes of psychological adjustment. We used a commonality analysis in R (version 4.02 ) to determine how emotion suppression, cognitive reappraisals of emotions, negative self-thoughts, resilience, and perceived stress commonly and individually contribute to the outcomes of well-being (model 1) and mental-health difficulties (model 2). Our overall results highlighted the importance of perceived stress and resilience as significant contributors to the outcome of psychological adjustment in child and adolescent TCKs. We demonstrated that there is a network of other factors that contribute together to well-being. Lastly, we showed that TCKs with pre-existing mental-health difficulties are more at risk for adjustment difficulties. Our third study (Study III) investigated two heuristic models of TCK adjustment based on the findings in the two previous studies. We explored the potential mediation of a) perceived stress and b) acculturative stress by resilience and family functioning on the outcomes of a) mental-health difficulties and b) sociocultural adjustment. We found that resilience mediated the relationship between perceived stress and mental-health difficulties. Moreover, we found direct effects between perceived and acculturative stress and sociocultural adjustment. Perceived stress was also influenced by age, while acculturative stress was influenced by age and time spent in the host country and directly influenced mental-health difficulties and sociocultural adjustment. I conclude the thesis with a proposed heuristic model of TCK adjustment based on the presented literature and findings from our studies, and suggestions for how the findings from the studies could support more targeted and preventative psychotherapeutic interventions for TCKs.
Advisors:Gaab, Jens and Ooi, Yoon Phaik
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Health & Intervention > Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie (Gaab)
UniBasel Contributors:Marchal-Jones, Emma and Gaab, Jens and Ooi, Yoon Phaik
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:14943
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:1 Band (verschiedene Seitenzählungen)
Identification Number:
  • urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-bau-diss149438
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:09 Mar 2023 07:44
Deposited On:06 Mar 2023 13:35

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