24 June 2008

Do bilingual people switch personalities?

Research done at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee suggests that when people are bilingual and bicultural, they may (unconsciously) switch personalities as they switch languages.
"They found significant changes in self perception or "frame-shifting" in bicultural participants -- women who participate in both Latino and Anglo culture.

"Language can be a cue that activates different culture-specific frames," the researchers said in a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

While frame-shifting has been studied before, they said this research found that people who are bicultural switched frames more quickly and easily than people who are bilingual but living in one culture.

The researchers said the women classified themselves as more assertive when they spoke Spanish than when they spoke English.

"In the Spanish-language sessions, informants perceived females as more self-sufficient and extroverted," they said.

In one of the studies, a group of bilingual U.S. Hispanic women viewed advertisements that featured women in different scenarios. The participants saw the ads in one language - English or Spanish - and then, six months later, they viewed the same ads in the other language.

Their perceptions of themselves and of the women in the ads shifted depending on the language."

Perhaps of interest to cousin Karl(os) in Barcelona and to the other dozen bilingual members of my family...

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