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The Antecedents and Consequences of Biculturalism

Final Report Summary - BICULTURALISM (The Antecedents and Consequences of Biculturalism)

Although many have touted the benefits expected from multicultural and second-culture exposure, evidence has been scant and inconsistent. Moreover, the role played by such exposure in shaping socio-cognitive skills and the resulting implications for performance have also received little theoretical and empirical attention. By drawing on a diverse set of research methodologies and by working at multiple levels of analyses, the comprehensive research agenda outlined in this proposal was aimed at addressing these knowledge gaps in three ways. First, it aimed to investigate the potential performance benefits of biculturalism and multicultural experience across various domains. Second, it aimed to explore the role of integrative complexity (and its correlates) as the underlying mediating mechanism linking multicultural experience / biculturalism and performance-related success. Finally, it aimed to uncover the antecedents and the boundary conditions of biculturals’ advantage. These issues were to be examined in a series of studies using different populations (participants from Israel, Europe, and the United States) and different methods (e.g. cross-sectional and experimental), affording a high degree of both internal and external validity.

During the final two years of the project, I have made very good progress in meeting the goals set for the proposal. Together with my various collaborators from leading universities in both Europe (e.g. INSEAD) and the US (Columbia), I have systematically illuminated the causal role of multicultural experiences in fostering significant creative, social, and performance advantages of immersing oneself in more than one culture, including the demonstration of reduced levels of stereotyping and prejudice, greater levels of creativity, and increased professional success. I was further able to provide direct evidence that these effects were driven by multiculturals’ development of a more complex style of thinking. These results held regardless of whether multicultural experience was measured or manipulated and regardless of the population sampled (Israelis, Europeans, Americans), providing evidence for the robustness of the results.
Overall, the current research affords cultural-, social-, and cognitive-psychologists with a greater in-depth understanding of the multicultural experience and its consequences. It presents organizational scholars and practitioners with a more comprehensive framework for how to manage cultural diversity successfully. And provides policy makers with tools for fostering a more tolerant society while simultaneously maximizing the economic return expected from immigration. Finally, on a personal level, this grant has been instrumental not only in allowing me to carry out the proposed research as planned but also in enabling my complete integration and securing my return home.