Disadvantaged group members are prouder of their group when using the language of the dominant group compared to their native language

Siwar Hasan-Aslih*, Orly Idan, Robb Willer, Eran Halperin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In ethnically and linguistically diverse societies, disadvantaged groups often face pressures to acquire and speak the advantaged group’s language to achieve social inclusion and economic mobility. This work investigates how using the advantaged group’s language affects disadvantaged group members’ in-group pride and collective self-esteem, relative to using their native language. Across six experimental studies involving Palestinian citizens of Israel (total N = 1,348), we test two competing hypotheses: Disadvantaged group members may experience greater in-group pride when using a) their native language, due to its emotional significance (the nativity hypothesis), or b) the language of the advantaged group, due to activation of habituated compensatory responses to dominance relations (the identity enhancement hypothesis). We found that respondents reported significantly higher in-group pride when responding to a Hebrew survey when compared to performing the same activity in Arabic (Studies 1a and 1b), regardless of whether the researchers administering the survey were identified as Jewish or Arab (Studies 2a and 2b). Study 3 replicated this effect while employing the “bogus pipeline” technique, suggesting the pride expression was authentic, not merely driven by social desirability. Finally, Study 4 (pre-registered) examined additional measures of positive regard for the in-group, finding that participants described their group more positively in an attribute selection task, and reported greater collective self-esteem, when surveyed in Hebrew, rather than in Arabic. Taken together, these findings suggest that language use influences disadvantaged group members’ perceptions and feelings concerning their group when those languages are associated with relative position in an intergroup hierarchy.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere2307736120
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume121
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 the Author(s).

Keywords

  • bilingualism
  • emotion
  • minority
  • pride
  • social identity

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