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Bicultural identity: the condition of being oneself when pertaining to the combination of two cultures. The term can also be defined as Biculturalism, which is the presence of two different cultures in the same country or region. As a general term, culture involves the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group. Within culture, we have cultural effects, which are the shared behaviors and customs we learn from the institutions in our society. [1]An example of a cultural effect would be how an individual’s personality is strongly influenced by the biological and social norms within their culture. Similarly, another cultural effect would be that in some societies it would be more acceptable to dress or act in a certain way, depending on the culture present.

In regards to Bicultural Identity, an individual may face conflict assimilating into both cultures and/or finding balance between both cultures. An individual may face challenges assimilating into the whole, collective culture. Similarly, an individual may face difficulty balancing their identity within themselves due to the influence of both of their cultures.Bicultural identity also may have positive effects on the individual, in terms of the additional knowledge they acquire from belonging to more than one culture.Furthermore, with the growing number of racial minorities in American society, individuals that identify with more than one culture may have more linguistic ability.

Biculturalism & Personality[edit]

Culture affects the personality of an individual because the individual may react or act in a way that reflective of the knowledge one acquires from our culture(s). Problems may arise when ideals in one culture are not connected to another culture, which may cause people to make generalizations about personality. Personality is shaped by both of one’s cultures and thus generalizations should not be made based on only one culture.[2]One’s culture also influences one’s hormonal changes, one’s interaction with violence and one’s family values. For example, Hispanic American culture often requires older children to take care and/or help raise younger siblings, while American culture interprets parents as the sole caregivers. Another example of this difference would be religious preference and or practice. Cultures other than the American culture may often identify more with certain religions and are often more in tune with their religious beliefs.

Measuring Bicultural identity[edit]


A way in which one can measure Bicultural Identity may be with the Bicultural Identity Integration construct. The BII is a relatively new construct proposed in 2002 by Benet-Martínez, Leu, Lee & Morris. It captures the degree to which bicultural individuals perceive their identities as “compatible and integrated versus oppositional and difficult to integrate.”The BII looks at how the bicultural individual perceives his bicultural identities and whether they are compatible or oppositional. It also seeks to identify the big five aspects of an individual’s personality, including aspects such as sociability, activity and emotionality. The BII seeks to find whether an individual has a cultural distance or conflict within one’s cultures, which in turn helps indicate how biculturally competent we are.

Low BII bicultural individuals have difficulties in incorporating both cultures into a cohesive identity and tend to see both cultures as highly dissimilar. Bicultural individuals with high BII on the other hand, see their identities as complementary and themselves as part of a “third” culture, which integrates elements from both their cultures. According to Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist, individuals respond in a more stable fashion when their cultural contexts are understood. Researchers wanted to examine how these differences could relate to other factors and the results are insightful. BII is significantly associated with the psychological and social adjustments of the bicultural.[3]Low BII bicultural individuals are found to have inferior bilingual proficiency, experience more anxiety, depression and are more neurotic and less open than bicultural individuals with high BII.[4] More importantly, low BII bicultural individuals are not chameleon-like. They resist the frame switching and are more likely to respond in ways inconsistent with the cultural cues.[5] In other words, when low BII Chinese-Americans are presented with American cues, unlike high BII bicultural individuals, they would not behave like Americans but instead, more like a Chinese. However, the identity struggle for bicultural individuals can be made less arduous. It is important to note that like other personality traits, BII is malleable to contextual factors. BII can be increased by asking bicultural individuals to recall positive cross-cultural exchanges or like in another study, make high-level construals.[6] These findings can be useful in for example, helping immigrants to cope with their new environment.

Bicultural Identity & Language[edit]

Language is an essential aspect of any culture. People are able to maintain key aspects of their culture by maintaining their culture’s language. Language is important because it is an oral form of how we interact with other people within our society. Language reinforces the ties among the people who speak the same language, and thus encourages cultural bonding. Thus, by preserving the language within both of one’s cultures, one can maintain one’s integration within each culture. [7] However, this can result in a difficulty in integrating one’s cultures if each has a distinct, different language as it can prevent outsiders from understanding that particular culture.

Cultural Frame Switching[edit]

The concept of Cultural Frame Switching (CFS) or Double Consciousness made popular by W.E.B Du Bois addresses how an individual switches between cultural frames or systems in response to their environment. The presence of culture specific peers can elicit culture specific values. CFS can be used to describe the switching of different language use depending on the context. Thus, CFS can be connected to Cultural Accommodation, which is seen when bilinguals respond to situations with the language that applies best to the situation present. It is evident that language can have an affect on an individual’s thinking process. This is because the language itself primes the individual’s cultural values, attitudes and memory which in turn affects behavior. Thus, language has a powerful affect on the way in which an individual responds to change.

Cultural Perspectives[edit]

African American Culture[edit]

African American culture is also known as black culture in the United States and the identity of African American culture is rooted in the historical experience of the African American people. It is rooted in Africa, and is a blend of sub-Saharan African and Sahelean cultures. Due to aspects of African American culture that were accentuated by the slavery period, African American culture is dynamic. Within the African American culture, race or physical differences led to mass murder, and violence against racial groups. These occurrences may affect an individual’s perception of their African American culture. In America, Black and White differences are the most significant groupings largely because of American history. The US was founded on the principle of “all men are equal” and yet slavery existed. This is what resulted in the American Dilemma. Thus, due to historical reasons, and because they are often stereotyped, African Americans have difficulty assimilating with their culture and American culture. For example, president Barack Obama has complexities due to his African American father and White mother. Growing up with his White mother, Barack did not fully understand his African American culture and often found it difficult to assimilate with both cultures. Thus, this affected his development because it made it difficult to balance both cultures, and to feel as if he was fully a part of both cultures equally.

Asian American Culture[edit]

Individuals having origins within the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent are referred to as Asian under the U.S. Census Bureau. Asian American complete 4.8% of the U.S. population alone. Asian Americans have had the highest educational attainment level and median household income of any racial demographic in the country and attain the highest median personal income overall, as of 2008. Thus, Asian American Culture is often depicted as the most similar culture to American Culture. Asian Americans often communicate non-verbally and/or indirectly, and often are not as bold or upfront as other cultures in terms of their communication. The Asian American way of life is much more group-oriented or holistic and thus the way in which they interpret the world is very systematically different than American Culture, in terms of thought process and lifestyle. This may make it difficult for Asian Americans to assimilate easily into American culture.

Hispanic American Culture[edit]

Hispanic and Latino Americans have origins in the countries of Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula consisting of Spain and Portugal. Hispanic Americans are very racially diverse. Hispanics constitute 16.5% of the total United States population. Hispanic Americans often are very religiously oriented and focus on family values and the importance of intergenerational connections. This may cause difficulty in integration with American culture, as the Hispanic community often emphasizes the importance of helping one’s family and advancing as a family rather than simply individual success, which is more prominent within American Culture. Similarly, Hispanics may have difficulty associating with American Culture because of the language culture, as most Hispanics can speak Spanish. The ability to speak Spanish is valued greatly within Hispanic culture, as it is greatly used during social gatherings and amongst extended family. The Spanish language is a significant part of Hispanic culture, and because of the vast amount of racial differences within Hispanic Americans, the way in which Spanish is spoken within the different racial groups is often different. This makes it not only difficult to assimilate into American culture but to often assimilate with the different races in Hispanic America.

Immigrant Experience[edit]

Immigrants particularly find it difficult to assimilate both their cultural contexts. Immigrants need to reconcile both their current host cultures and their culture of origin where they grew up in. Immigrants culturally evolve through a process of adaptation and assimilation. Immigrants are usually influenced by more dominant values that they have learned in their native countries. Immigrants encounter a major upheaval by moving far away from home and sometimes may never find themselves connected to either culture. Immigrants face many stresses, which can raise their risk for substance abuse and other psychological stressors. Bicultural identity is all about blending two cultures together and learning to be competent within their two cultures. Immigrants and children of these individuals may be more at risk for victimization, poverty, and the need for assistance from the government. Immigrant parents for example may struggle to find a balance in their new lives and may be so busy keeping up with the demands that may be less involved in the community and in turn less involved with their child’s education. [8]

With immigrants, language barriers may also bring hardship in terms of communication with natives of their less dominant culture. Immigrants may not adapt fully because of the language barriers holding them back from even simple conversation. Acculturation is the process in which a bicultural individual or immigrant adopts the social norms of the mainstream society. The generation gap between immigrant parents and their children may elevate due to acculturation because younger generations find it easier to adapt to the new culture. Family relations may be strained due to this issue. Children of immigrant parents may enjoy more mainstream culture, but may also want to stick to their families’ roots in order to please their caregivers. Immigrants and bicultural families do have more positive roles as well. They have strong commitments to family and have a dream for a better life. This in turns gives families a sense of purpose and connection and makes the family unit stronger. Native customs such as holidays and religious affiliations may also support the family unit and promote unity all around.


Social interactions[edit]

Individuals with bicultural identity face issues around stereotype threat. Others may perceive you in a negative way, or their judgments may in turn alter the way that you behave in certain situations. For example, with standardized testing many times African American students in low-income areas may do worse on a given test due to the expectations for them to do worse. Stereotype threat is so powerful that it may extend on to different areas of life, such as the workplace. It is a multi dimensional concept that may affect an individual on many levels. Stereotype threat makes it harder for individuals to integrate successfully with their peers if they feel judged or feel pressures to exceed in certain ways especially if their dual cultural roles may be in conflict with one another.

Family Dynamics & Integration[edit]

Caregivers also face a dilemma with their children who have bicultural identities; they want to instill pride in their children, but also must prepare their children for prejudice without making them feel inferior to other cultural groups. For example, African-American parents must socialize their children in such a manner where they will be prepared to face discrimination in society, but they also must preserve their culture in such a way that makes them feel prideful. This dilemma that parents face makes it harder for individuals to feel comfortable within social groups and may minimize the different cultures that individuals surround themselves with. Some individuals can develop a more multicultural outlook and feel confident being around many kinds of people, whereas others may have an issue with this and may stick to their own cultural group.

Academics and Attitudes Towards Education[edit]

Academics within individuals with bicultural identity may also be aversely affected in terms of stereotype threat. An individual may lose motivation in a scholastic setting due to the negative expectations placed on them. Attitudes may change within academics if a student feels as though he cannot do well due to societal constraints on his particular culture. Although this may discourage some, specific tests have been made in order to integrate culture within standardized testing.

A system created by Jane Mercer, assumes that test results cannot be distanced from the culture and it focuses on comparisons among people within particular culture groups rather than between culture groups. This system has been applied to intelligence and ability examinations in order to combat the concern of disadvantaged minorities doing poorly due to their incapacity to do as well as their counterparts.

See Also[edit]

Biculturalism is often related to concepts such as Cultural identity, Assimilation, Bilingualism, Multiculturalism and Cultural psychology


[9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17]

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  9. ^ Benet-Martinez, V., J., F., M. (2002). "Negotiating biculturalism: Cultural frame switching in biculturals with oppositional versus compatible cultural identities". Journal of Cross-cultural Psychology. 33: 492–516.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  10. ^ Chen, S. "Two languages, two personalities? Examining language effects on personality in the bilingual context". Unpublished doctoral dissertation.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help);
  11. ^ Martinez, V., J. (2002). "Bicultural Identity Integration (BII): Components and psychosocial antecedents". Journal of Personality. 73: 1015–1050.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  12. ^ Dong, Q., D., J. (2006). "The impact of bicultural identity on immigrant socialization through television viewing in the United States". Journal of Intercultural Communication Studies. 2.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  13. ^ Guan, M., F., E. (2012). "Complexity of culture: The role of identity and context in bicultural individuals' body ideals". Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. 18 (3): 247–257.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  14. ^ Mok, A., M. (2012). "Bicultural self-defense in consumer contexts: Self-protection motives are the basis for contrast versus assimilation to cultural cues". Journal of Consumer Psychology.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  15. ^ Mok, M., W. (2012). "Managing two cultural identities: The malleability of bicultural identity integration as a function of induced global or local processing". Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 38 (2): 233–246.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  16. ^ Torres, V., S., L., C., A., E. (2012). "The connections between Latino ethnic identity and adult experiences". Adult Education Quarterly. 62 (1): 3–18.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  17. ^ Friedman, H. (2012). Personality: Classic theories and modern research. Pearson Higher Education: Allyn & Bacon. 

Elyse Diaz & Thelma Terrero October 22, 2012 Outline of Writing Plan

The article we chose on Bicultural Identity does not contain enough information. It needs define Bicultural Identity in the first line. It also doesn’t have any subheading so the structure is not clear. The links are not demonstrated throughout the article, but rather condensed in the beginning. The quote mentioned at the beginning of the article is not cited properly within the article. They don’t equally represent examples of other cultures besides Asian Americans.

To Do List 1. Define the term Bicultural Identity in a elaborate fashion. 2. Remove examples in the first paragraph 3. Remove the “second generation Indian American” quote. 4. Make heading for BII, Cultural Framing Switching, and different cultures such as Hispanic American, Asian American, & African American. 5. Make a heading for Immigrant experience related to bicultural identity. 6. Make a heading for language and its relation to bicultural identity. 7. Add pictures representing bicultural identities. 8. Impact section with subheadings for how biculturalism influences your social interactions, academics or attitudes towards education, & everyday choices such as food or clothing style. 9. Links on Multiculturalism, Racial Integration, Immigration, Multilingualism, 10. Make a heading for Integration 11. Add a content box 12. Add a “See Also” section