Brought to you by one of my three personalities

To start off, I’d like to specify: there is no official diagnosis of a “multiple personality disorder”. Experts are not sure it truly exists. And even though the two are used synonymously, it is not (at all) the same as schizophrenia. But this isn’t the subject, so more to that some other time.

People who are bicultural and speak two languages may actually shift their personalities when they switch from one language to another, according to new research in the Journal of Consumer Research. Three studies show that language-triggered frame switching (i.e., switching from one set of mental frames to another) occurs only with biculturals, not with bilinguals who are not bicultural.

In one of the studies, a group of bilingual U.S. Hispanic women viewed ads 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 the women in the ads shifted depending on the language. “One respondent, for example, saw an ad’s main character as a risk-taking, independent woman in the Spanish version of the ad, but as a hopeless, lonely, confused woman in the English version,” write the authors.

The shift in perception seems to happen unconsciously, and may have broad implications for consumer behavior and political choices among biculturals.

You can read the whole article here (but it’s not for free). I find this very interesting, because I can speak three languages and have lived in three different countries. Which according to them means I have (at least) three different personalities. Frankly, I’m not surprised. I have heard people tell me before that my voice sounds differently depending on what language I’m speaking and I also believe I react differently to things according to which cultural mind-frame I’m currently in. But I’ll still be a feminist and politically left-minded in any case. As for the consumer behavior… I don’t know.

Does anyone else have experience with this phenomena? Or does anyone think I seem to have a different personality here on my english-speaking blog than in my german-speaking everyday life?


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