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Influence of living in another culture for identity and well-being: The case of Turkish immigrants in Denmark

Carlsbergfondets postdoc-stipendier i Danmark

What

Moving to a foreign country is one of the most life-changing experiences. It is a significant cultural transition that increases the number of autobiographical memories retrieved from the life period of immigration in old adults. However, we do not have much insight into the characteristics and content of the personally significant experiences, old immigrants reminisce about. Do they regret not staying in their home country? Do they internalise the cultural norms of the host country and use these norms, narrating their memories? How do these factors relate to their psychological well-being? The present project addresses these questions in a thorough cross-cultural and cross-generational study, where young and older Turkish immigrants in Denmark are compared to young and older Danes.

Why

The Turkish minority is the largest immigrant group in Denmark. Older Turkish immigrants, who came to Denmark in the 1970s, have serious health-related and economical challenges. Surprisingly, they do not usually reach out to ask for free psychological help. Is this because they have high levels of psychological well-being, despite their negative experiences, or because they live in an isolated environment, where they do not realise that help is available? The present project examines this systematically by focusing on the reminiscence processes of young and older Turks compared to Danes.

How

First, I will examine the potential cultural and generational differences in the ability to derive meaning from personally important experiences. Second, I will focus on the characteristics of counterfactual alternatives to these important experiences, imagined in response to "What if you had not experienced this event, how would your life have been different?". Third, I will compare the Turkish immigrants with the Danish adults regarding their general knowledge about the expected life events and their timeline in the Danish culture and examine, whether this is associated with acculturation, life satisfaction, and psychological well-being.

SSR

One of the grand challenges of our times is immigration. People may immigrate, for example voluntarily, to pursue education, or involuntarily to flee from conflict or war. In either case, establishing a new life in another country has challenges and impacts people psychologically. Since no studies have yet examined how autobiographical memories and counterfactual thoughts in an immigrant group relate to their personal identity and psychological well-being, the present project addresses a significant gap in the literature. It has, therefore, the potential of expanding our theoretical knowledge and providing relevant information to the Danish authorities working on integration about psychological health and well-being of Turkish immigrants to facilitate evidence-based practices.