Toward a Positive Psychology of Immigrants

Cory L. Cobb, Nyla R. Branscombe, Alan Meca, Seth J. Schwartz, Dong Xie, Maria Cecilia Zea, Ludwin E. Molina, Charles R. Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The vast majority of immigration-focused research in psychology is rooted in deficit models that center on negative health outcomes (e.g., depression, acculturative stress, anxiety, substance use), resulting in a widely held assumption that immigrants are at greater risk for pathology and poor well-being compared with native-born individuals. Moreover, current political discourse often portrays immigrants as more prone to crime compared with native-born individuals. From a positive-psychology perspective, we argue that, despite numerous migration-related challenges, many immigrant populations report positive patterns of psychological health. We also provide evidence that immigrants are, in fact, less prone to crime than their native-born counterparts. We conclude by discussing several contributing factors that account for positive immigrant well-being across the range of destination countries. Ultimately, the field should address questions regarding (a) immigrants’ strategies for coping with the challenges involved in adapting to new homelands and (b) asset-based factors that help immigrants to thrive during difficult life challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-632
Number of pages14
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • adaptation
  • immigrants
  • positive psychology
  • strength
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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