Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology


Cliff Yung-Chi Chen

Committee Members

Alpana Bhattacharya

Mario Kelly

Subject Categories

Educational Psychology | Multicultural Psychology


Acculturation, Ethnic Victimization, Perceived Reasons for Victimization, Acculturative Stress, Pressure to Acculturate, Retrospective


Very little is known about the peer victimization experiences of South Asian immigrant students and the factors involved in these experiences. The present study retrospectively investigated the peer victimization experiences of South Asian immigrant students in high school, the perceived reasons for victimization, and how these experiences relate to their psychological well-being and ethnic identity as college students. Two hundred and twenty college students, who were first or second generation immigrants from South Asia (e.g., India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal) and attended high school in the United States, participated in the study.

Overall, the results revealed that there was a high peer victimization rate among South Asian immigrant students (73.6%, n = 162). Specifically, indirect bullying and verbal bullying were the most frequent types of victimization experienced by South Asian students in high school. The most frequent perceived reasons for peer victimization reported by participants were: (1) certain stereotypes associated with their culture, (2) their ethnicity or nationality, (3) their cultural beliefs, customs and traditions, (4) their way of dressing, (5) and their skin color.

Socio-demographic factors such as language fluency, religion, SES, gender, and school context were not found to be significantly related to peer victimization experiences. First generation students were not likely to experience more peer victimization than second generation students, however, first generation students did report more ethnic victimization, being victimized due to ethnic background, than second generation students.

Correlational analyses found that higher levels of peer victimization and ethnic victimization were related to lower levels of acculturation to the American culture. South Asian students who reported higher levels of victimization also reported higher levels of pressure to acculturate and acculturative stress in high school. Furthermore, South Asian students who were victimized in high school reported lower psychological well-being as college students.

Regression analyses indicated that peer victimization and ethnic victimization experiences in high school significantly predicted the ethnic identity of South Asian students in college. Lastly, hierarchical regression analyses revealed that family support moderated the relationship between peer victimization and psychological well-being of South Asian students, but not between peer victimization and ethnic identity. These findings and conclusions suggested areas for future research. Educational implications were addressed.