Multidimensional Acculturation Among South Asians: Factor Structure of the Vancouver Index of Acculturation (VIA) and Relationship to Eating and Body-Image Disturbance
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Eating and body-image disturbance are commonly experienced by young women, and are known risk factors in the development of eating disorders and other psychopathology (Smolak & Striegel-Moore, 2001). Although previously believed to predominantly impact White women, eating and body-image disturbance are now known to be experienced cross-culturally (Soh, Touyz, & Surgenor, 2006). However, research examining the associations between acculturation and eating pathology among ethnocultural groups is mixed. One reason for these conflicting findings relates to inconsistencies in the definitions and measurement of acculturation. Although evidence is mounting in favour of bidimensional acculturation models (i.e., identification with mainstream and heritage culture are considered separate concepts), unidimensional conceptualizations persist (Ryder, Alden, & Paulhus, 2000). The current study aimed to assess the dimensionality of the Vancouver Index of Acculturation (VIA; Ryder et al., 2000), a commonly used bidimensional acculturation scale, among 276 male and female undergraduate students of South Asian background using confirmatory and exploratory factor analysis (Study 1). Results indicated that four factors (mainstream traditions acculturation; mainstream social affiliation acculturation; heritage traditions acculturation; heritage social affiliation acculturation) underlie the VIA in this sample. Next the associations between these four acculturation factors and eating and body-image pathology were examined using structural equation modeling (SEM) in 191 South Asian undergraduate women (Study 2). The proposed model included indirect paths whereby acculturation factors were associated with eating and body-image pathology through thin-ideal internalization. Results indicated that neither mainstream nor heritage acculturation are wholly protective or harmful in their association with eating and body-image pathology among South Asian students. Clinical implications, including the development of appropriate campus-wide interventions focusing on media literacy and weight-control beliefs are discussed.