Media Effects on Ethnic Identity Among Linguistic Majorities and Minorities

A Longitudinal Study of a Bilingual Setting


Richard Clément, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada, K1N 6N5; e-mail:


Research on media effects has documented the media's influence on beliefs and behavior while cross-cultural psychology has documented the effects of the language used in communication on identification with the ingroup and the outgroup. Media usage in the outgroup language should, therefore, affect identification patterns. This research investigates media effects in the acculturation process through a longitudinal design involving minority and majority group members evolving in the same bilingual environment. Subjects were Francophone students (N= 235) from minority and majority settings attending a bilingual (French–English) university. Results revealed that majority students increased significantly written and public media consumption in English whereas minority students increased French written media consumption. Furthermore, increased usage of English written and audiovisual media was related to identity changes in favour of the Anglophone group. Finally, path analysis emphasized the mediating role played by English language confidence and the determining role of ethnolinguistic vitality.