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Paweł Boski and Katarzyna Iben Youssef

Abstract

Bilingualism and biculturalism are of growing importance in the world today and of increasing research interest in social sciences. Since the seminal paper by Hong et al. (2000), researchers have explored cognitive consequences of cultural and/or linguistic frame switching on cognitive functioning, mainly causal attributions (Benet-Martinez et al., 2002). It was repeatedly found that when primed by either Chinese or Americans symbols, bicultural Chinese-Americans would act as monoculturals on each side of their hyphenated identity. Paradoxical effects of conflicting bicultural identity were also reported (Benet-Martinez, Haritatos 2005). Boski (2008) extended the arguments built on a particular cultural mix of Chinese-Americans category and the analytic - holistic cognitive divide, to other groups and to axiological domains among Polish-Americans. In the current study, bilingual Tunisians of two generations were asked questions pertaining to values entrenched in their immediate cultural milieu and about those reflecting their personal convictions. Also, they answered questions about their readiness to act according to extrinsic and intrinsic motivations, as well as about conflicts between these two tendencies. Language (Arabic vs. French) was the key contrasting variable in our study. The findings clearly demonstrated that when using the French language, participants of both generations became not only less extrinsic but also less intrinsic in their motivations based on the local Arabic culture. However, the degree of conflict between these two motivational tendencies became stronger among participants using French as a tool for communication. This research demonstrates the power of cultural representations based on language and adds to the arguments falsifying naïve beliefs in “perfect translations”.

Open access

Aleksandra Dopierała, Kamila Jankowiak-Siuda and Paweł Boski

Abstract

Empathy of pain as a multi-dimensional process includes sharing and understanding the pain of others in relation to oneself. Subjects in such studies are typically members of western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic societies. In the literature review that we conducted, we observed that little is known about the empathy for pain in people who are not members of societies with these cultural characteristics. We often understand those who are “similar” to us more easily - ones who belong to “our” cultural circle. However, contact with another culture could help prevent such bias. Group characteristics, such as focus on others, hierarchy preference, or cultural differences in self-constructs, can change the activity of brain regions associated with empathy and compassion. Increasing the diversity of the research participants connected with education level, poverty, industrialization, and respect for basic citizen freedoms seem to be necessary to fully understand the mechanisms that influence the development and operation of empathy.