Self-attention as a mediator of cultural influences on depression

Hongtu Chen, Peter J. Guarnaccia, Henry Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: Despite the widespread recognition of cultural differences in depressive symptoms, it is unclear through what processes culture affects depressive symptoms. Aim: This research aims at examining whether self-attention mediates the influence of acculturation on changes in depressive symptoms in an immigrant group. Method: Adults of Asian cultural backgrounds were surveyed. Depressive symptoms were assessed and divided into three categories: affective, somatic and interpersonal items of depression. Acculturation experiences were measured. Self-attention to three aspects (i.e. affective, somatic and interpersonal) of the self was also assessed. Results: As acculturation proceeds, Asian immigrants tend to pay increasingly more attention to the affective aspect of the self and less to the somatic aspect of the self. The changes in the focus of self-attention seem to explain the changes in the experience of depression that include more affective and less somatic symptoms of depression as the degree of acculturation increases. Conclusion: Self-attention to certain aspects of the self seems to play an important role mediating the influence of acculturation on changes in subcategories of depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-203
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Acculturation
  • Depressive sympton
  • Self-attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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