Bilinguals Have â€˜Distinct Personalityâ€™ for Each Language
People raised bilingually and biculturally often unconsciously adopt different behavior and personality traits, depending on which of their two languages they’re speaking, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Baruch College in New York found that biculturals have “distinct cognitive frameworks associated with each of their cultures and languages” along with “different repertoires of values, and behaviors … worldview and identities.”
The study tracked 28 women who were biculturally American and either Mexican or Puerto Rican. All of the subjects were bilingual in Spanish and English, and with a high degree of assimilation in both cultures.
The study, published in the August 2008 edition of the Journal of Consumer Research, gives the term “frame-switching” to the phenomenon of bicultural people switching between these mindsets.
“When cued by a particular language, these individuals activate distinct sets of culture-specific concepts or mental frames, which include aspects of their identities,” the researchers wrote.
One use of the research, the investigators said, could be in the field of “consumer research” as when creating advertising that might factor in a bicultural subject’s dual cultural frames of reference.