Psychological adjustment patterns between Italian majority and Slovene minority children  

Dimitrova R., Tallandini M.
First author's affiliation: University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy

Based on the model developed by Garcia Coll and Szalacha (2004), the present research aims to explore the psychological situation of children from two native ethnic groups in Northern Italy. The model suggests that minority status leads to a decrease in children’s psychological well being, so that the ethnic minority children show more adjustment difficulties compared to the majority ones. Important buffering factors which prevent the development of negative outcomes are strong ethnic cohesion, community support and good family socio-economic conditions (Stansfeld et al., 2004). All these factors characterize the Slovene minority, which is the dominant ethnic group owning a specific minority status in North Italy. Triggered by these considerations, the present study investigates psychological adjustment of Slovene minority compared to Italian majority school-age children. Given the high ethnic density and historical presence of Slovene ethnic community in the area, it is expected that Slovene children would not present adjustment differences as compared to the Italians (Stansfeld et al., 2004). Moreover, we hypothesized gender differences with boys presenting more adjustment problems than girls (Boxer, Tisak, & Goldstein, 2004) for both groups. The sample consisted of 130 children aged 7 to 12 years – 61 Slovene minority and 69 Italian majority. To test the predictions, adjustment was assessed in terms of emotional instability, prosocial, aggressive behavior and depressive symptoms through two standardized questionnaires - Social Adjustment Capacity Indicators Questionnaire (Caprara et al., 1992) and Children’s Depression Inventory (Kovacs, 1988). Consistent with our expectations, results did not show ethnic group differences between the Slovenian and Italian participants, who presented more similarities in their self-ratings of adjustment. The gender comparisons showed that girls tend to respond more pro-socially than boys did. These results contribute to understanding the Slovene minority children’s integration, suggesting positive adjustment in relation to their school and peer-related context.