Psychological well-being and self-construal among Asian International students: The effect of frame switching

Michele Barakett Smith, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to investigate cultural frame switching and well-being in Asian international students. Specifically, it sought to establish whether it is possible to experimentally manipulate the self-construal of Asian international students using a cultural prime, and whether self-construal priming would have an effect on the factor structure of commonly used measures of well-being in Asian international students. Also, it investigated whether commonly used instruments for assessing well-being are valid for use with Asian international students. Finally, it queried whether there are differences in mean scores on the Subjective Well-Being (SWB) and Psychological Well-Being (PWB) scales between groups primed with independent versus interdependent self-construal. The participants were 447 Asian international students in the United States. They completed two self-construal priming tasks, and four surveys via the internet. The surveys included in the study were: the Self Construal Scale (Singelis, 1994); the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (Watson, Clark & Tellegen, 1988); the Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener, Emmons, Larsen & Griffin, 1985); and the Well-Being Inventory (Ryff, 1989). A repeated measure analysis of variance found a statistically significant interaction between prime condition and self-construal, but not in the predicted direction. Self-construal priming did not affect the factor structure of the well-being measures in either subsample; however confirmatory factor analyses found that a two-factor solution (SWB and PWB) was unacceptable in both subsamples. A more parsimonious solution was produced by a one-factor model of the correlations among the nine well-being subscales. Separate exploratory factor analyses of the SWB and PWB subscales using a pooled sample resulted in a two-factor solution for SWB and a one-factor solution for PWB. Finally, mean differences were found between subgroups primed with independence and interdependence for PWB, but for not for SWB. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for clinical practice with Asian international students and for the measurement of well-being across cultural groups.

Subject Area

Experimental psychology|Personality psychology

Recommended Citation

Smith, Michele Barakett, "Psychological well-being and self-construal among Asian International students: The effect of frame switching" (2009). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3361466.