Are Bicultures More Than the Sum of Their Parts? Exploring Context Sensitivity in Relation to Cultural Frame Switching and Well-Being
West, Alexandria Leta
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Identifying with multiple cultures is increasingly common. In negotiating their two cultures, biculturals engage different cognitive systems depending on contextual cues a phenomenon called cultural frame switching. Effective cultural frame switching likely requires biculturals to attend closely to the surrounding context, and as a result, biculturals may become especially context-sensitive. We experimentally tested whether cultural frame switching increases biculturals context sensitivity (Part One) and whether greater context sensitivity relates to higher well-being for biculturals (Part Two). Part One results failed to demonstrate a consistent causal relationship between frame switching and context sensitivity, though exploratory analyses provided some evidence that biculturals self-reported ability to frame switch between cultures may predict context sensitivity. Part Two results showed mixed support for a relationship between biculturals context sensitivity and well-being. In addition to limitations and future directions, theoretical implications for the way biculturalism is conceptualized and studied are discussed.