Psychological Ill-being, Psychological Well-being, and Psychological Growth of Immigrant Mothers and Their Children Moving From Mainland China to Hong Kong: A Dyadic Approach


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Awarding Institution
Award date7 Sep 2022


Introduction: Immigration can be challenging but is also full of opportunities. Family members, particularly immigrant mothers and their children, may function as a unit and interact with each other during the immigration process. However, little is known about how both internal and external resources contribute to their adjustment outcomes from the systematic and dyadic perspectives. We expanded the systematic framework of resilience, treating the immigrant mother and child as a dyad, and further examined how the multi-levels of risk and protective factors affect their psychological ill-being, psychological well-being, and psychological growth.

Methods: Dyadic data was collected from a sample of 200 mother-child pairs who had migrated from Mainland China to Hong Kong. In Study 1, polynomial regression with response surface analysis was utilized to examine the dyadic effect of similarity and dissimilarity in perceived discrimination on their psychological ill-being. In Study 2, dyadic latent profile analysis was used to identify heterogeneous subgroups based on psychological well-being and to investigate the patterns of multi-level protective resources within the subgroups. In Study 3, an actor–partner mediation interdependence model was analyzed to assess the effect of the flexible mindset in predicting psychological growth via the mediating role of personal resilience both within and between mothers and their children.

Results: Firstly, the results showed that higher levels of dyadic similarity in perceived discrimination contributed to the deterioration of psychological ill-being in both mothers and children. Conversely, higher individual levels of discrimination perceptions than their counterparts (either mothers or children) were positively associated with the individual’s own psychological distress (Study 1). Secondly, there were four distinct patterns of adjustment outcomes based on their well-being and mental health outcomes (i.e., the adapted mothers and children subgroup, maladapted mothers and children subgroup, adapted mothers and maladapted children subgroup, and maladapted mother and adapted children), each are characterized by a specific profile of protective factors including personal resilience, family resilience, and peer support (Study 2). Thirdly, the flexible mindset of an individual promoted the psychological growth of themselves and their counterparts (mothers or children). Furthermore, their resilience had a mediating role between these associations for individuals, and the children’s personal resilience mediated the effect of the mothers’ flexible mindset on their children’s psychological growth (Study 3).

Conclusion: This thesis contributes to the previous literature by extending the systematic framework of resilience from an individual perspective to a dyadic perspective, from the negative effect of risk factors at the environmental level to the protective effect of resources at the intrapersonal level, and from the psychological ill-being to the psychological growth. In practical terms, this thesis highlights the importance of both developing dyad-focused intervention programs and promoting resources to enhance the positive adjustment of immigrants.