Self-construal and emotion in bicultural bilinguals

Viorica Marian*, Margarita Kaushanskaya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

181 Scopus citations


Autobiographical memories retrieved by bicultural Russian-English bilinguals were compared across languages. Results suggest that bilinguals' languages may influence cognitive styles, so that when speaking a language associated with a more individualistic culture, bilinguals produce more individualistic narratives, whereas when speaking a language associated with a more collectivist culture, bilinguals produce more collectivist narratives, regardless of language of encoding, or main agent in the narrative. Moreover, bilinguals expressed more intense affect when speaking the same language at the time of retrieval that they spoke at the time when the event took place. The positive/negative emotional valence of autobiographical narratives was influenced by language and age at the time of the event and by the main agent in the narrative. It is proposed that memories and self-narratives in bilinguals are mediated by the language spoken at any given time and that language functions as a vehicle for culture, with cultural differences seeping into language and influencing cognitive styles and the self.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-201
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Bilinguals
  • Collectivism
  • Emotion
  • Individualism
  • Language
  • Memory
  • Self

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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