Caribbean Journal of Psychology: Vol. 5, Issue 1, 2013

Article 5
Jamaican Boys’ Construals of Jamaican and American Teenagers

Gail M. Ferguson
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Maria I. Iturbide
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


This paper explored Jamaican adolescent boys’ construals of Jamaican and American cultures as embodied by typical teenagers and parents in each country. Fifteen boys participated in focus group interviews and thematic analysis was done by a team of three coders. Boys tended to compare and contrast the two cultures. Their construals of Jamaicans and Americans differed in some respects (e.g., parenting style) and converged in others e.g., adolescent sensation-seeking). Boys’ construal of Jamaican culture as aggressive, anti-gay, and fashion-obsessed aligned with key elements of dancehall culture’s prescription of masculinity, whereas their construal of American culture aligned with Hollywood images of spoiled and crazy teens with permissive parents. Understanding how Jamaican adolescents perceive Jamaican culture and American culture is necessary to fully appreciate the biculturalism that Americanized Jamaicans achieve on the island by way of remote acculturation.