I am currently undertaking research on several projects in the area of psychology. These include identity and acculturation, stress and adjustment, and music and emotion.
Identity and Acculturation
I began to look at issues around identity and acculturation in the late 1980's as part of my Masters work at Simon Fraser University. Working under the direction of Professors Anand Paranjpe and James Marcia I conducted a study on ego-identity and acculturation among Indo-Canadian Youth and young Adults. This work was also informed by the work John Berry on acculturation processes. Following that my Doctoral dissertation was also looking at identity and acculturation considering immigrant young adults with Canadian born individuals where I also examined various methods to assess these psychological characteristics. In that collection of studies I made use of questionnaire forms for understanding ego-identity and acculturation (based upon the measures used in my Masters research) and compared them with interview based assessment of ego-identity and acculturation derived from James Marcia’s Ego-Identity Status Interview. This allowed me to compare the quantitative and qualitative approaches to understanding identity within cultural contexts and asses these approaches for their strengths and weaknesses. Combined with these two studies I also included an open-ended and content analytic survey on the meaning of Canadian Identity (based upon an earlier study I did with Gira Bhatt) providing a baseline for understanding the acculturative experiences of the participants. The final study involved the development of narrative accounts of a selection of participants from the overall study, making use of all of these measures to develop a psychohistorical profile following the work of Erik Erikson, Anand Paranjpe’s mentor and James Marcia’s inspiration.
This work was followed by a post-doctoral study done as part of the Metropolis Project through the Vancouver Centre for Excellence (RIIM) where we examined identity and acculturation of immigrant young adults using the revised Ego Identity Status Interview also reported as the Immigrant Identity Interview. Most of the participants in this study were from Hong Kong or Taiwan, many coming to Canada as part o the 1997 hand-over of Hong Kong from a British Colony to China.
Following a hiatus of about a decade (due to raising young children and getting involved in administrative duties) I returned to this work looking at immigrant young adults using this interview. Over the past five years my research assistants and I have been looking at ego-identity and acculturation among immigrant young adults and international students in Victoria BC.
Stress and Adjustment
While conducting my Masters and PhD studies on acculturation I began to look at acculturative stress as an important factor in the experiences of many immigrants. While working on the Metropolis project myself, Salina Bates, Yu-Fan Lai and Anand Paranjpe conducted a comparison of surveys to asses Acculturative Stress . We compared the Cawte tress measure as had been used by John Berry and colleagues in their many studies along with a measure of international student stress developed by Sandhu and Asrabadi to establish the important features of acculturative stress. Since then I have refined a measure developed a measure, the Bio-Psycho-Social Health Index (BPSHI) from this exploratory study and have been using it to examine stress among International Students. Over the past few years we have been examining stress among International student in comparison with domestic Canadian students to further understand the role that cultural adjustment plays on health and wellbeing. We are currently actively researching this further.
Music and Emotion
In 2008 I began to teach a course on Music Psychology along side my colleague Gary Anderson, where we examined many facets of how music affects us psychologically. We came to discover that one the most powerful impacts of music is on our emotions. In 2013 I began a study on Music and Emotion with Sasha Goatley where we began to ask people about music that gives them a sense of “Home” and then to rate that music on a collection of emotional attributes. We have had people from a number of cultural and national backgrounds to complete our survey, the Music & Cultural Identity Questionnaire (MCIQ) and have more recently dovetailed this research with my work on stress and adjustment to understand the potential role that music plays in ameliorating acculturative stress for international students in contrast to domestic students. We are actively researching this and working on developing a larger international sample.
Movement and MeaningFollowing several discussions at conferences over the past four years I have begun to explore the embodiment of emotion and meaning through movement. This work is still at a very informal stage of development but I expect to launch a more formal study in the next year or so. It is based upon my theoretical work on Erik Erikson’s configurational approach to the embodiment of geographic and cultural systems into psychosocial identity as well as my experiences in practicing and teaching Tai Chi over the past 30 years.