Because East German institutions were replaced by West German substitutes or innovations,
the experience of German unification somewhat resembles processes of acculturation. This links
our research on social and personality development in times of social change to another interdisciplinary
and multi-site investigation, which explicitly addresses acculturation among a particular group of
immigrants with ethnic German roots. Again, the timing of adolescent transitions was a focus of this work.
Since 1988, after the political changes in the former Eastern Block, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans
have come back to what they resume to be their mother country. However, their families have lived in Romania,
Russia, and Poland for centuries, and thus the so called "Aussiedler" often immigrate to Germany not only
without any command of German, but also with a different, more collectivist value orientation. The more
traditional and collectivist the value orientation, the later are the age expectations for adolescents'
autonomy in issues such as romantic involvement or decision-making about one's friends and leisure
activities. Ethnic Germans between 10 and 16 years of age reported developmental timetables with transitions
scheduled three years later than those held by their local agemates. In a longitudinal study of almost 300
ethnic German immigrant adolescents and their parents, we were able to show that adolescents' expectations
for development decreased in age the longer the time spent in Germany. Acculturation was especially
marked among the newcomers who had just arrived in Germany at the time of the first wave of the study.
Higher levels of conflict and permissiveness reported by parents, and lower levels of monitoring and more
frequent out-of-home activities corresponded to a more accelerated acculturation to earlier timetables among
the newcomers. The reason presumably lies in the fact that higher levels of the family variables studied
encourage escape from the constraints of the newcomers' provisional homes, and thus provided opportunities
to make contact with, and to adopt the life style of adolescents from the general German population. For the
adolescents who had resided in Germany for a longer period of time, however, family processes were less
relevant. Future analyses are going to tap the outcomes of earlier timetables. Problem behaviors such as
alcohol use and the well-being of the adolescents will also be studied.
- Schmitt-Rodermund, E. (1997). Akkulturation und Entwicklung. Eine Studie unter jungen Aussiedlern. Weinheim: Psychologie Verlags Union.
- Silbereisen, R. K., Lantermann, E. D. & Schmitt-Rodermund, E. (Hrsg.) (1999). Aussiedler in Deutschland: Akkulturation von Persönlichkeit und Verhalten. Opladen: Leske + Budrich.
- Schmitt-Rodermund, E. & Silbereisen, R. K. (1999). Determinants of differential acculturation of developmental timetables among adolescent immigrants to Germany. International Journal of Psychology, 34, 219-233.
- Schmitt-Rodermund, E. & Silbereisen, R. K. (2002). Psychosoziale Probleme bei jungen Aussiedlern - Eine Längsschnittstudie (Psychosocial problems among ethnic German adolescent immigrants - A longitudinal study). Zeitschrift für Entwicklungspsychologie und Pädagogische Psychologie, 34, 63-71.
- Schmitt-Rodermund, E. & Silbereisen, R. K. (2002). Akkulturation und Entwicklung: Jugendliche Immigranten (Acculturation and development: Adolescent immigrants). In R. Oerter & L. Montada (Eds.), Entwicklungspsychologie (pp. 893-906). Weinheim: Psychologie Verlags Union.
Silbereisen, R. K., in collaboration with E. Schmitt-Rodermund