Theoretical Backgrounds

Our research has been grounded in three theoretical frameworks, namely Bronfen Brenner’s ecological developmental theory, Jessor’s problem behavior theory, and acculturation theories. Here are some key points of the theoretical frameworks that form the foundations of our research.

With regard to the interaction between individuals and environmental influences in our research, Bronfenbrenner’s theory provides an overarching theoretical framework that explains adolescents’ behaviors exhibited in the context of their relationships with family members, peers, and teachers in their ecological settings. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory emphasizes that multiple contextual layers of environmental influences and forces emanating from the immigrant and minority adolescents’ home, school, and community and their interactions with individuals determine developmental adjustment processes among immigrant and minority adolescents.

As one of the primary research themes, Dr. Chun has addressed the issue of engagement in problem behaviors among adolescents by adopting the problem behavior theory espoused by Jessor (1987). Jessor (1987) argues that the etiology of adolescents’ engagement in several problem behaviors can be accounted for by general proneness toward unconventionality, that is, the tendency to violate expected social and cultural norms established by society. Dr. Chun’s studies (2010, in press) investigating the co-occurrence of several types of problem behaviors across both genders and racial/ethnic groups have evidenced the bivariate or multivariate relationships among multiple problem behaviors.

Several theoretical perspectives that account for acculturation have been integrated in Dr. Chun’s research. Berry’s acculturation model, the segmented assimilation theory (Bui, 2012; Portes & Zhou, 1993; Zhou, 1997), and the convergence hypothesis (Sam et al., 2008) explaining the generational status effect among immigrants have been adopted in our research projects. Future research projects will further integrate these theoretical perspectives in order to advance the understandings of immigrant and minority adolescents and achieve theoretical parsimony.