Communication Studies


Master of Arts (MA)


Gina Barker

Primary Subject Area

Sociology, General; Mass Communications


This study examined first generation immigrants, defined as those who were born in a Latin American country and moved to the U.S. after the age of 12, and second generation immigrants, defined as those who were born in the U.S. or moved here before the age of 12. Literature in the field of cross-cultural adaptation suggests that intercultural communication competence tends to be further developed as a result of intercultural adaptation. The intent of this research was to test this assertion. Data was collected by way of survey administration on a sample of 216 Latino immigrants representing both first and second generations. Three hypotheses guiding this study proposed that first generation immigrants would score higher on cognitive flexibility, intercultural sensitivity, and biculturalism than second generation immigrants, because of their tangible exposure to more than one culture. These hypotheses were not supported; results showed that second generation immigrants scored higher on all three measures than their first generation counterparts. Furthermore, it was expected that a bicultural orientation would be correlated with cognitive flexibility and intercultural sensitivity. However, only a moderate correlation was found between higher scores on biculturalism and cognitive flexibility and intercultural sensitivity. Reasons for these unexpected findings are discussed.