Special Thematic Section on "Social Justice Issues for Counselling Psychologists in Greece"

Greek Host Community Acculturation Expectations Towards Immigrants From Albania and Pakistan: The Role of Existential Parameters

Georgios Tsouvelas*a, Vassilis Pavlopoulosa


The idea of personal death causes a sense of uncertainty and threat against our ontological security. Terror management theory proposes that, when confronted with existential anxiety, we tend to seek safety through explicit (post-mortem expectations) and implicit/symbolic immortality (cultural worldviews). This study aims to explore the role of existential parameters in the Greek host community acculturation expectations towards immigrants from Albania and Pakistan. Participants were 208 Greek university students. Exposure to mortality salience was introduced in the experimental group by administering the Mortality Attitudes Personality Survey, while participants of the control group responded to a questionnaire about TV watching. Measures for both groups included the Host Community Acculturation Scale and the Connection of the Soul Scale. It was found that host community acculturation expectations were not affected by experimental exposure to mortality salience but they were related to post-mortem expectations. Specifically, post-mortem expectations for connection with God were associated with acculturation expectations for individualism (positively), segregation and marginalization (negatively) of immigrants from Albania, while post-mortem expectations for connection with the universe were linked to expectations for integration of this immigrant group. With regards to immigrants from Pakistan, segregation was positively related to the connection with God. The findings suggest that host community acculturation expectations of Greeks are related to existential anxiety as a trait rather than as a state.

Keywords: acculturation expectations, immigrants, existential anxiety, mortality salience, post-mortem expectations

The European Journal of Counselling Psychology, 2018, Vol. 7(1), doi:10.5964/ejcop.v7i1.151

Received: 2018-07-30. Accepted: 2018-08-16. Published (VoR): 2018-10-31.

Handling Editors: Kalliope Kounenou, Department of Education, School of Pedagogical and Technological Education, Herakleion, Greece; Maria Malikiosi-Loizos, School of Education, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

*Corresponding author at: Department of Psychology, School of Philosophy, National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, Panepistimiopolis, 157 84 Zografos, Greece. Phone +306944434584. E-mail: gtsouvelas@psych.uoa.gr

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

The movements of individuals or groups within and across states, nations and cultures, are phenomena as old as the history of humanity. At present, immigration is one of the most complex and controversial challenges that modern societies, including Greece, have to manage. Migration is best understood in the context of an interdependent planet.

The theoretical basis of the present study lies in the social-psychological theories of intergroup contact. Terror management theory, in particular, focuses on the role of existential threat on prejudice, stereotyping, and intergroup aggression (Greenberg, Landau, Kosloff, & Solomon, 2009). In this realm of research acculturation processes are related to intergroup relations. This study explores the impact of existential parameters on the acculturation expectations of the Greek host community towards immigrants from Albania and Pakistan by implementing a quasi-experimental and correlational design.

Acculturation [TOP]

Acculturation summarizes the phenomena associated with intercultural contact (Sam, 2006). Redfield, Linton, and Herskovits (1936) define acculturation as “those phenomena which result when groups or individuals from different cultures come into continuous first-hand contact, with subsequent changes in the original cultural patterns of either or both groups” (p. 149). These changes are expected to occur both at the individual and group levels (Berry, 2001). Moreover, acculturation is a two-way rather than a one-way process, which means that both immigrants and host community members are invited to “adapt” (Bourhis, Moïse, Perreault, & Senecal, 1997). Changes are expected to occur not only among immigrants but in the host-national majority as well, although they are less obvious and the distribution of power is clearly asymmetrical.

Bourhis and Montreuil (2013) describe five profiles of host-national acculturation expectations. Integrationism is endorsed by host community members who accept and value that immigrants equally maintain some aspects of their heritage culture and of the national culture as well. Transformation-integrationism is supported by host community members who not only accept and value the cultural/linguistic contributions of immigrants to the receiving society, but are also willing to adapt by transforming some aspects of their own cultural practices and institutions accordingly. Individualists define themselves and others as persons rather than as members of ethnic group categories. Assimilationists, segregationists and exclusionists share their rejection of the immigrant heritage cultures but express it in different ways. Assimilationists expect immigrants to sacrifice their heritage culture for the sake of adapting to the culture of the host majority. They tend to accept immigrants to the extent that they become culturally and linguistically assimilated in the country of settlement. Segregationists require immigrants to keep to themselves both culturally and socially thus reducing the likelihood that immigrant cultures could dilute or influence the culture of the host majority. Exclusionists reject immigrants and their cultures as they do not want such outgroups to contaminate or transform the national culture. They tend to avoid intergroup contact and support anti-immigration policies and practices.

Immigration policies have a pervasive impact on cultural orientations of both the immigrant and host community groups. Policies reflecting pluralism and civic ideologies are more likely to yield positive and harmonious relational outcomes than policies reflecting the assimilation ideology, while segregationist and exclusionist policies are likely to foster conflicting relational outcomes (Bourhis et al., 1997). Even when policy-level pluralistic orientations and state ideologies are depicted, a percentage of the majority population will retain segregationist or exclusionist attitudes towards specific immigrant groups.

According to the Interactive Acculturation Model (Bourhis et al., 1997), intercultural relations reflect the relative fit between the host community majority acculturation expectations and the immigrant minority acculturation strategies. This approach distinguishes between three relational outcomes, namely consensual, problematic and conflictual. Consensual relational outcomes are predicted when both immigrants and host community members share integration, assimilation, or individualism. Discordant acculturation orientations yield problematic and/or conflictual relational outcomes. Problematic relational outcomes emerge when the host community and the immigrant group experience partial (dis)agreement with regards to their profile of adaptation, i.e., when immigrants favour assimilation while host nationals prefer integration or, conversely, when immigrants prefer integration but host nationals favour assimilation. Conflictual relational outcomes are likely to emerge when immigrant group members endorse separation. Consensual fit is associated to lower levels of acculturative stress and intergroup tension, more positive interethnic attitudes, less negative stereotypes and lower levels of discrimination. Conversely, conflictual fit will have the most unfavourable outcome (Brown & Zagefka, 2011).

Piontkowski, Rohmann, and Florack (2002) proposed a similar theoretical position, known as the Concordance Model of Acculturation. They argued that a better predictor of intercultural relations is not merely the relative fit between the attitudes of the two groups but rather the matching between the desires and beliefs of one group about what the other group wants. This model was validated cross-sectionally (Zagefka & Brown, 2002) and longitudinally (Zagefka, Binder, & Brown, 2011). As Brown and Zagefka (2011) point out, the psychological response of a person is mediated by subjective intakes of reality, and therefore the evaluation of relative fit between preferred and perceived strategies is more important for the prediction of acculturative outcomes, compared to an objective measurement. The present study draws on the above models to examine the relative fit of acculturations processes, as they are perceived by the host national Greeks, with a focus on immigrants from Albania and Pakistan.

Host national acculturation expectations may vary depending on how they evaluate the ethnic origin of migrants. Montreuil and Bourhis (2001, 2004) introduced the terms ‘valued’ and ‘devalued’ immigrants, related to positive and negative stereotypes in the host community, respectively. Valued immigrants include persons and groups with a better acquisition of the national language, with common ethnic origin and similar cultural elements. Devalued immigrants are visible, of different ethnic origin and culturally distant. A preference for the expectations of integration and individualism towards non-devalued groups as well as a preference for the expectations of assimilation, separation and marginalization towards devalued groups are reported in the relevant literature (Montreuil & Bourhis, 2001, 2004).

Attitudes Towards Immigrants in Greece [TOP]

In Greece, state immigration policies are ambivalent and inconsistent, while laypeople attitudes are on the negative side (Pavlopoulos & Motti-Stefanidi, 2017). Comparative studies (e.g., European Commission, 2015), revealed particularly high rejection rates of immigrants from the native Greeks. This is even more pronounced when immigrants come from poor countries. In a recent survey (Georgakopoulos, 2017) the majority of participants reported that the presence of immigrants increases crime (64%) and unemployment (58%), and it does not enrich the Greek culture (65%), though negative responses reduced considerably in two years’ time.

Immigrants from Albania and Pakistan were selected for the purposes of the present study. These represent the first and fourth largest documented immigrant groups, respectively (Hellenic Statistical Authority, 2014). With regards to undocumented flows, immigrants from Albania and Pakistan were ranked fifth and fourth, respectively, in 2016 (cf. Triandafyllidou & Mantanika, 2016). When it comes to perceived cultural distance, immigrants from Albania were placed closest to Greeks while immigrants from Pakistan were considered the most distant ethnic group (Theodorou & Pavlopoulos, 2016). A tendency of immigrants from Albania towards assimilation has been reported. A typical example of this strategy is the conversion of their names to Greek names (Manos, Papadopoulou, & Makrygianni, 2017). Less is known on the acculturation of immigrants from Pakistan. In one of the few studies, they were perceived as a clearly more devalued and culturally distant group from the Greeks, compared to Albanian immigrants (Theodorou & Pavlopoulos, 2016).

The Terror Management Theory [TOP]

Terror management theory falls under the umbrella of experimental existential psychology. Its basic assumption is that the idea of personal death causes a sense of threat and uncertainty in the ontological security of the individual (Greenberg, Pyszczynski, & Solomon, 1986; Solomon, Greenberg, & Pyszczynski, 2015). Humans try to manage the awareness of the inevitability of death in various ways, for example through myths, religion, science and medicine as well as through family and work (Lifshin, Greenberg, Soenke, Darrell, & Pyszczynski, 2018). In other words, we create and maintain cultural systems of meaning and values in order to minimize the distress and anxiety related to death and instil hope through beliefs about immortality. We tend to seek security through explicit (post-mortem expectations) and implicit/symbolic immortality (cultural worldviews). The attachment to cultural values and institutions enables individuals to construe themselves as valuable, memorable contributors to larger entities that continue to exist after their death, such as family, communities or nations (Lifton, 1979).

The notion that real and symbolic immortality contribute to the alleviation of existential anxiety has received considerable empirical support (Greenberg, Vail, & Pyszczynski, 2014). Beliefs about real immortality were shown to reduce the motivation of individuals to improve their self-esteem after exposure to mortality salience (Dechesne et al., 2003). Similarly, attachment to symbolic immortality was found to be negatively related to fear of death and defence after exposure to mortality salience (Florian & Mikulincer, 1998). In this experimental condition higher levels of faith in God, life and spirituality (Vail, Arndt, & Abdollahi, 2012), as well as an increased desire for symbolic immortality (Greenberg, Kosloff, Solomon, Cohen, & Landau, 2010) were observed.

Cultural worldviews are a means of symbolic immortality for the individual. However, they are human cognitive constructs, and therefore not infallible or universal. Also, worldviews are expected to vary considerably across individuals. In order to maintain our beliefs and the validity of our worldview within a pluralistic cultural world, constant confirmation is required. This is achieved more easily when one faces elements that are compatible with one’s own cultural worldview. However, when the individual is confronted with different standards and alternative explanations of reality, then s/he seeks to ensure validity in various ways, e.g., conversion, devaluation, assimilation, integration, annihilation (Pyszczynski, Solomon, & Greenberg, 2003).

Terror management theory poses that exposure to mortality salience increases dependency on internalized cultural worldviews and preference for those who support these worldviews. To the extent that stereotypes concerning stigmatized groups are part of a worldview, exposure to mortality salience is expected to increase stereotypical thinking and preference for minority members compared to those who challenge the stereotype (Schimel et al., 1999). Exposure to mortality salience is related with social phenomena like in-group favouritism and out-group derogation (Greenberg, Simon, Pyszczynski, Solomon, & Chatel, 1992), compliance (Greenberg, Porteus, Simon, Pyszczynski, & Sheldon, 1995), political preferences (Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, & Sulloway, 2003) and activation of stereotypes (Schimel et al., 1999).

The contribution of terror management theory in the acculturation literature is rather limited. In the few relevant studies, attitudes towards migrants were examined following exposure of host community members to mortality salience (Bassett & Connelly, 2011; Castano & Dechesne, 2005; Dupuis & Safdar, 2010; Greenberg et al., 1990). These studies largely confirm the assumption that, following exposure to mortality salience, members of the host community tend to show in-group favouritism towards immigrant groups sharing similar cultural worldviews, while they tend to show out-group derogation and discrimination against ethnic groups that embrace a different worldview.

The Present Study [TOP]

The purpose of the present study is twofold: First, it aims to explore the degree of convergence or divergence between Greek host community acculturation expectations, on the one hand, and perceived acculturation strategies of immigrants from Albania and Pakistan, on the other. Second, it will examine the impact of existential anxiety, either as a condition (exposure to mortality salience) or as a predisposition (post-mortem expectations), on the acculturation expectations of the host community members towards immigrants from Albania and Pakistan.

Relatively high convergence between acculturation expectations and perceived acculturation strategies is expected for immigrants from Albania due to the historical contact of the two ethnic groups, the proximity at both spatial and cultural levels (Manos et al., 2017), and the socio-economic development of this immigrant group over the last decades in Greece (Iosifides, Lavrentiadou, Petracou, & Kontis, 2007; Rovolis & Tragaki, 2006). Therefore, a consensual model combining contact elements (integration and assimilation expectations) is expected. With regards to immigrants from Pakistan, a confrontational model of acculturation expectations and perceived acculturation strategies is expected as this is considered a devalued group (Salvanou, 2013) of low socio-economic level (Rovolis & Tragaki, 2006; Tonchev, 2007), high visibility and cultural distance (Theodorou & Pavlopoulos, 2016).

Existential anxiety will be studied as a condition (exposure to mortality salience), in line with terror management theory, and also as a predisposition (post-mortem expectations). The above distinction is a contribution of the present study as it has not been paid much attention in the relevant literature. With regards to mortality salience, host community members are expected to show in-group favouritism towards a valued group (i.e., immigrants from Albania) and out-group derogation and discrimination against a devalued group (i.e., immigrants from Pakistan). On the other hand, post-mortem expectations may trigger symbolic threatening systems against both migrant groups. As there are no previous studies on this issue, the effect of post-mortem expectations takes the form of an open research question.

Method [TOP]

Participants [TOP]

Two hundred and eight (208) students of Greek origin from three universities in different regions across the country joined the study. They were invited to participate through announcements posted at their Schools; therefore, they constitute a convenience sample. Of them, 26 (12.5%) were male and 182 (87.5%) were female. Their mean age was 20.7 years (SD = 4.53 years). Participants were randomly assigned to the mortality salience condition (n = 109, 52.4%) and the control condition (n = 99, 47.6%). The two groups did not differ substantially in terms of gender and age.

Materials [TOP]

Mortality Salience [TOP]

The Mortality Attitudes Personality Survey (Rosenblatt, Greenberg, Solomon, Pyszczynski, & Lyon, 1989) was administered in the mortality salience condition. Participants were asked prototypical open-ended questions regarding their mortality: “Please briefly describe the thoughts and emotions that follow the idea of your own physical death” and “Write down in detail what you think will happen to you as you die and once you are physically dead” (Rosenblatt et al., 1989). In the control condition, participants responded to two questions about TV watching and web TV programmes. This is a commonly used manipulation for control groups in experimental designs of terror management theory (e.g., Burke, Martens, & Faucher, 2010). To further provide a distraction between the mortality salience exposure and the dependent measures, participants completed the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Spielberger, Gorsuch, Lushene, Vagg, & Jacobs, 1983) and read a literary excerpt about the plasticity of the language. Then they were asked to guess the author's gender and create four words by using specific letters from the text. Duration of the delay was 11-13 minutes. The length of the delay, combined with the assignment of simple cognitive tasks, is supposed to increase the mortality salience effect even further (Burke et al., 2010).

Acculturation Expectations [TOP]

An adapted form of the Host Community Acculturation Scale was administrated (Bourhis et al., 1997; Bourhis & Montreuil, 2013). HCAS consists of six items, each representing a different acculturation expectation (i.e., integrationism, integrationism-transformation, individualism, assimilationism, segregationism, and exclusionism). In the original scale, participants are invited to report their level of agreement with each item using a 7-point Likert scale. In our study, participants read a description of the six host acculturation expectations first and then they chose their preferred acculturation expectation for immigrants from Albania and Pakistan, respectively. This way, host-national acculturation expectations were measured as a single categorical variable based on the relative priority given by the respondents to the six alternatives that were presented to them.

Perceived Acculturation Strategies [TOP]

Participants read four descriptions of acculturation strategies (integration, assimilation, marginalization, segregation), drawn from the Immigrant Acculturation Scale (Berry et al., 1987). Then, they were asked to indicate which strategy they believe that immigrants from Albania and Pakistan tend to adopt more often. Therefore, this scale evaluated the host-national perceived acculturation strategies of the two migrant groups.

Post-Mortem Expectations [TOP]

The Connection of Soul scale was administered (Ai et al., 2014), which measures post-mortem expectations. It is composed by 12 items summarized in three dimensions: secular (4 items, e.g. “Regarding my life, after death everything is over”), God-centred (4 items, e.g. “After death I come to the community with God”) and cosmic-spiritual views (4 items, e.g. “After death my soul connects with the world spirit or the infinite force”). Participants assessed their level of agreement on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (“strongly disagree”) to 7 (“strongly agree”). Internal consistency was high (secular views: α = .91; God-centred views: α = .90; and cosmic-spiritual views: α = .88).

Demographics [TOP]

Participants filled in a demographic questionnaire their gender, age, level of education, country of birth, and country of birth of their parents.

Procedure [TOP]

All measures were adapted to Greek from their original English versions by two bilingual researchers following back translation procedures (Brislin, 1970).

Data collection was carried out in university classes. Participants completed the questionnaires at two time points with one week interval. At time 1 the experimental manipulation was introduced; participants were also administered the Host Community Acculturation scale. At time 2 perceived acculturation strategies and post-mortem expectations were measured.

Data collection took place after informed consent was granted. Participation was voluntary and no reward was offered. Questionnaire completion time did not exceed 40 minutes at each time point.

Results [TOP]

Acculturation Expectations [TOP]

The distribution of host community acculturation expectations for immigrants from Albania was as follows: 72 (34.8%) Integrationism, 61 (29.5%) Individualism, 55 (26.4%) Integrationism-transformation, 9 (4.3%) Exclusionism, 6 (2.9%) Segregationism, and 4 (1.9%) Assimilationism. Host community acculturation expectations for immigrants from Pakistan were as follows: 67 (32.2%) Individualism, 57 (27.4%), Integrationism-transformation, 54 (26.0%) Integrationism, 12 (5.8%) Segregationism, 10 (4.8%) Assimilationism, 8 (3.8%) Exclusionism. A chi-square test of independence was performed to examine the relation between acculturation expectations and immigrant groups, which was not significant, χ2(5, N = 208) = 7.52, p = .185 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Percentages of host community acculturation expectations for immigrants from Albania and Pakistan in Greece.

Perceived Acculturation Strategies [TOP]

The distribution of perceived acculturation strategies of immigrants from Albania was as follows: 101 (49.5%) Integration, 55 (27.0%) Assimilation, 38 (18.6%) Segregation, and 10 (4.9%) Marginalization. Results for immigrants from Pakistan were as follows: 113 (55.4%) Segregation, 48 (23.5%) Integration, 30 (14.7%) Marginalisation, and 13 (6.4%) Assimilation. A chi-square test of independence was performed to examine the relation between perceived acculturation strategies and immigrant groups, which was significant, χ2(3, N = 208) = 92.05, p < .001 (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

Percentages of perceived acculturation strategies of host community for immigrants from Albania and Pakistan in Greece.

Relative Fit of Acculturation Expectations and Perceived Strategies [TOP]

The relative fit between host acculturation expectations and perceived acculturation strategies for immigrants from Albania was as follows: 98 (48.3%) problematic, 64 (31.5%) consensual and 42 (20,2%) conflictual intergroup contact. The pattern for immigrants from Pakistan was different: 93 (45.6%) problematic, 85 (41.7%) conflictual and 26 (12.7%) consensual intergroup contact. A chi-square test of independence was performed to examine the association of the relative fit of acculturation expectations and perceived strategies with immigrant groups, which was significant, χ2(2, N = 208) = 31.54, p < .001 (see Figure 3).

Figure 3

Percentages of relative fit of host community expectations and perceived acculturation strategies for immigrants from Albanian and Pakistan in Greece.

Prediction of Host Acculturation Expectations by Existential Parameters [TOP]

Two sets of six binomial logistic regression analyses each were conducted in order to predict each of the host acculturation expectations for immigrants from Albania and Pakistan, respectively. Predictors included mortality salience exposure (state existential anxiety) and post-mortem expectations (trait existential anxiety).

In what concerns host acculturation expectations for immigrants from Albania, the omnibus test was statistically significant for integrationism, χ2(1) = 6.43, p = .011, which was predicted by the cosmic-spiritual post-mortem expectation, Β = 0.29, Exp(B) = 1.34, p = .015; for individualism, χ2(1) = 5.40, p = .020, which was predicted by God-centred post-mortem expectation, Β = -0.27, Exp(B) = 0.77, p = .021; for exclusionism, χ2(2) = 7.49, p = .024, which was predicted by the God-centred post-mortem expectation, Β = 0.90, Exp(B) = 2.45, p = .009, and tentatively by the cosmic-spiritual post-mortem expectation Β = 0.58, Exp(B) = 1.79, p = .062; and marginally for segregationism, χ2(1) = 3.72, p = .054, which was tentatively predicted by God-centred post-mortem expectation, Β = 0.70, Exp(B) = 2.02, p = .085 (see Table 1).

Table 1

Binary Logistic Regression Analyses for the Prediction of Host Community Acculturation Expectations (HCAS) (Method: Backward) for Immigrants From Albania by Existential Parameters

HCAS Mortality Salience
Secular PME
God-centered PME
Cosmic-spiritual PME
Οmnibus χ2
Β Exp (B) Β Exp (B) Β Exp (B) Β Exp (B) Cox & Snell Nagelkerke
Integrationism 0.29* 1.34 0.03 0.04 6.43*
Individualism -0.27* 0.77 0.03 0.04 5.40*
Assimilationism 0.00 0.00 -0.21
Segregationism 0.70+ 2.02 0.02 0.08 3.72
Exclusionism 0.90** 2.45 0.58 1.79 0.04 0.12 7.49*
Integrationism-transformation 0.00 0.00 -1.76

Note. PME: Post-mortem expectations.

p < .10. *p < .05. **p < .01.

In what concerns host acculturation expectations for immigrants from Pakistan, omnibus test was statistically significant for segregationism, χ2(2) = 6.58, p = .010, which was predicted by God-centred post-mortem expectation, Β = 0.66, Exp(B) = 1.95, p = .022; and marginally for individualism, χ2(1) = 3.50, p = .061, which tentatively predicted by God-centred post-mortem expectation, Β = -0.21, Exp(B) = 0.81, p = .062 (see Table 2).

Table 2

Binary Logistic Regression Analyses for the Prediction of Host Community Acculturation Expectations (HCAS) (Method: Backward) for Immigrants From Pakistan by Existential Parameters

HCAS Mortality salience
Secular PME
God-centered PME
Cosmic-spiritual PME
Οmnibus χ2
Β Exp (B) Β Exp (B) Β Exp (B) Β Exp (B) Cox & Snell Nagelkerke
Integrationism 0.00 0.00 -2.58
Individualism -0.21 0.81 0.02 0.02 3.50
Assimilationism 0.00 0.00 -0.59
Segregationism 0.66* 1.95 0.03 0.09 6.58**
Exclusionism 0.00 0.00 -2.52
Integrationism-transformation 0.00 0.00 -2.11

Note. PME: Post-mortem expectations.

p < .10. *p < .05. **p < .01.

Discussion [TOP]

The first goal of this study was to investigate the degree of convergence between host community acculturation expectations and perceived acculturation strategies of immigrants from Albania and Pakistan in Greece. Our second goal was to explore the impact of existential parameters on host community acculturation expectations for the above immigrant groups. We were informed by social psychological insights of acculturation and intergroup relations, namely the Interactive Acculturation Model and the terror management theory.

No systematic differences were found in the acculturation expectations of the host community towards immigrants from Albania and Pakistan. Consequently, this study did not confirm Fiske, Cuddy, Glick, and Xu’s (2002) hypothesis according to which immigrants belonging to high-status groups might trigger more positive attitudes in the receiving population as compared to the ones coming from low-status groups. It could be that, while immigrants from Pakistan clearly occupy low-status position in the Greek society (Theodorou & Pavlopoulos, 2016; Tonchev, 2007), immigrants from Albania may not really represent a high-status group as they are economic immigrants coming from a poor country (Iosifides et al., 2007).

Considering that the acculturation expectations of integrationism and integrationism-transformation are conceptually close, we might argue that the prevailing pattern of acculturation expectations for both immigrant groups is, in fact, integration. Transformal-integration is an integrative expectation provided that the host community defines both the system justification and the tokenism (Bourhis & Montreuil, 2013). Our finding is in line with previous research (Bourhis, Barrette, El-Geledi, & Schmidt, 2009; Rohmann, Florack, & Piontkowski, 2006; Van Oudenhoven, Prins, & Buunk, 1998). However, it must be noted that host national expectations for integration entail to some extent the risk of socially desirable responses, which is acknowledged as a restriction of the present study.

The most prominent host community acculturation expectation for immigrants from Pakistan was individualism. This is a zero-expectation of culture adoption/maintenance, since host community members do not actually support cultural maintenance of this immigrant group. These attitudes reflect low level of integration of immigrants from Pakistan into the Greek society, probably due to the cultural distance between the country of origin and the receiving society.

Overall, our results revealed rather ambiguous acculturation attitudes of the Greek host community that range between integration and individualism. This finding is consistent with recent acculturation research in Greece (Pavlopoulos & Motti-Stefanidi, 2017). One third of participants hold expectations for individualism towards both immigrant groups. This type of expectations ignores the role of culture in the identity of migrants. Individualism is an acculturation orientation that minimizes the (potentially threatening) cultural incompatibility between nationals and immigrants, and focuses instead on the interpersonal aspects of contact in terms of citizenship rather than ethnicity (Chryssochoou & Lyons, 2011).

The least desirable acculturation expectations for immigrants from Pakistan were marginalization and assimilation, and for immigrants from Albania were separation and assimilation. Assimilation was also found to be the least preferred acculturation expectation in previous studies in (Pavlopoulos & Motti-Stefanidi, 2017) and in Italy (Vezalli & Giovanni, 2010). Assimilationism is related to the fear of loss of national identity, feeling uncomfortable with immigrants and feeling threatened by their presence (Stephan & Stephan, 2000).

Host community members often report segregation and assimilation expectations for undervalued immigrant groups (Montreuil & Bourhis, 2001, 2004; Safdar, Dupuis, Lewis, El-Geledi, & Bourhis, 2008). Our study did not confirm this finding for immigrants from Pakistan, who represent a devalued group in the Greek society. A similar finding is reported by Vezalli and Giovanni (2010) in Italy. In particular, although immigrants from Albania were not highly valued, they did more so than immigrants from Pakistan. The former is a rather assimilated group with more frequent contact and higher cultural proximity/resemblance with Greeks, perceived also to constitute a more realistic threat compared to immigrants from Pakistan. The latter are considered a devalued and visible migrant group (Leghari, 2009). The reader is warned that ethnic group categorizations of this kind the above are context specific. For example, in the Italian study of Vezalli and Giovanni (2010) the devalued group was from Albania and the valued group came from China.

Significant differences emerged with respect to perceived acculturation strategies of the host nationals towards the two groups. Immigrants from Albania were thought to adopt Integration and Assimilation, while their counterparts from Pakistan were depicted to prefer Separation. These findings confirm previous research in Greece with immigrant adolescents from Albania (Pavlopoulos et al., 2009) and with adult immigrants from India (Kateri & Karademas, 2009). Acculturation expectations for immigrants from Pakistan have also been studied in the United States (Robinson, 2009) and Canada (Wong-Rieger & Quintana, 1987) showing a prevalence of Separation similar to our data. If it is true that immigrant self-reports indicate a preference for acculturative styles that allow for cultural maintenance (e.g., Berry, Phinney, Sam, & Vedder, 2006), then our findings suggest that perceived host community and actual acculturation strategies tend to coincide, as in Greece cultural maintenance is a valid option for immigrants from Albania and very much less so from Pakistan.

With regard to the patterns of intergroup relations, a consensual-problematic model emerged for immigrants from Albania, while a more conflictual model of contact with the host community was revealed for immigrants from Pakistan. The effect of immigrant country of origin appears to confirm the cultural distance assumption (Babiker, Cox, & Miller, 1980). Our data are also compatible with the similarity-attraction hypothesis (Byrne, 1971), which suggests that perceived similarities between culture of origin and culture of contact are generally related to higher levels of sociocultural adaptation. As Triandafyllidou (2000) points out, a hierarchy of “Greekness” is constructed in the political discourse where the levels of inclusion to or exclusion from one’s ingroup are shaped on the basis of qualities, such as ethnicity and religion. This may explain why immigrants from Albania display higher levels of consensual intergroup fit. On the other hand, immigrants of Islamic or Asian origin living in Europe have been found to experience more sociocultural difficulties than immigrants perceived to be “less distant” (Ward, Bochner, & Furnham, 2001).

As suggested by the Interactive Acculturation Model, it is not acculturation strategies or expectations themselves, but rather their relative fit that will determine the outcome of intergroup relations (Bourhis et al., 1997). Acculturation does not take place in a social vacuum, which means that in-group vs. out-group pressures on individuals are not symmetrical (Chryssochoou, 2004). This should be especially true for countries, like Greece, experiencing a recent transition from a homogeneous society to multiculturalism.

However, a paradox is highlighted in the Greek context: As immigrants from Pakistan tend to adopt separation, chances of intergroup contact are reduced and conditions of social mobility are restricted, the host community tends to justify the system inequalities (Jost & Andrews, 2011) and therefore they may not be willing to implement institutional interventions for this group. Contrary to this hypothesis, we found high preference for integrationism-transformation. This may be explained in part by findings from other studies that host community members wish to define the criteria, procedures and areas through which cultural elements will be maintained by the host community and by immigrant minorities (Sapountzis, 2013).

Our second goal was to investigate the impact of existential anxiety, measured as a state (i.e., exposure to mortality salience) or a trait (i.e., post-mortem expectations), on host national acculturation expectations. Terror management theory stresses the importance of culture as a tool for coping with existential concerns (Kashima, 2010). In our study, exposure to mortality salience did not differentiate host national acculturation expectations. This unexpected finding may be due to a methodological restriction, namely the short time of distraction in the experimental design. According to Burke et al. (2010), the effect of exposure to mortality salience increases along with distraction time.

Terror management theory proposes that mortality salience can trigger either a conservative shift or a worldview defence (Burke, Kosloff, & Landau, 2013). In the present study the emerging pattern is in support of the second explanation, i.e., host national acculturation expectations were linked to existential anxiety as a predisposition (post-mortem expectations), rather than as a state (exposure to mortality salience).

Cosmic post-mortem expectations of connecting with the universe were positively related to expectations for integration when the target group was immigrants from Albania. Expectations of connecting with God were negatively associated with individualism and positively with separation and marginalization for immigrants from Albania; also, they were negatively linked with individualism and positively with separation for immigrants from Pakistan. On the other hand, secular post-mortem expectations failed to predict acculturation expectations for both immigrant groups. A worldview of joining with the universe is conceptually compatible with integration. Post-mortem expectations of connecting with God may derive from perceived threat (Ai et al., 2014); in such a case, individuals attempt to validate a concrete worldview aimed at maintaining the system, which may result in more negative acculturation expectations and less desire for intergroup contact.

Religion attempts to respond to the need for existential security after death. Death anxiety did not appear to significantly affect those who were religiously believed when there were reminders of their faith (Jonas & Fischer, 2006). On the other hand, religious differences often increase the salience of ethnocultural differences and, therefore, they trigger ingroup favouritism and outgroup derogation, a practice that is known to result in ethnic intolerance and violence (Daniels & von der Ruhr, 2005). In cross-cultural studies, identification with religious identity is associated with nationalism and negative attitudes towards immigrants (Deitz, 2014; Storm, 2011). However, in a study of Scheepers, Gijsberts, and Hello (2002), religious practices had a curvilinear relationship with prejudice against immigrants.

Limitations and Implications for Future Research [TOP]

To our knowledge, this is one of few attempts to empirically investigate host majority acculturation orientations towards valued and devalued groups of immigrants in Greece. These studies bring to attention issues of segregation and prejudice in the public discourse and call for policies to promote mutual intercultural relations and understanding. Encouraging direct interpersonal contact of majority members with a devalued minority that holds a counter-stereotypical position of authority may be a first step to change negative attitudes towards these minorities (El-Geledi & Bourhis, 2012).

Undoubtedly, more studies are necessary to replicate our findings. It is not only the non-representative sampling procedures that limit generalizability, but also the context-bound nature of our conclusions, especially in the rapidly changing landscape of immigration in Greece. Future studies could explore qualitative aspects of intercultural relations, such as the content and quality of contact. For this purpose, alternative to self-report measures, such as interviews or focus groups, are more appropriate. Ethnic groups differing in the “hierarchy of Greekness” (Triandafyllidou, 2000) should be studied, including recent refugees from countries of ongoing conflicts and war.

The above being acknowledged, the present study has some significant theoretical and societal implications. It underlines the importance of interactional and macro-level variables, such as expectations and existential worldviews, respectively, in understanding intercultural relations in modern plural societies. In terms of theory, a connection is drawn between host community acculturation expectations and existential anxiety both as an experimental condition and as a predisposition. Finally, interventions and policy may benefit from the mutual nature of acculturation as well as from the complex role of expectations and perceived strategies in shaping intercultural contact.

Funding [TOP]

The authors have no funding to report.

Competing Interests [TOP]

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Acknowledgments [TOP]

This work was partly funded by a scholarship from the Onassis Foundation granted to the first author. The authors are grateful to Dr. Michaila Chondrokouki for her support in language editing.

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