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Cultural Identity Threat: The Role of Cultural Identifications in Moderating Closure Responses to Foreign Cultural Inflow


  • Data collection was supported by a grant from Columbia University's Center for International Business and Education Research (CIBER).

Michael Morris, Columbia Business School, 708 Uris Hall, 3022 Broadway, New York, NY 10027 [e-mail:].


Political theorists of globalization have argued that foreign inflows to a society can give rise to collective-identity closure—social movements aiming to narrow the in-group, and exclude minorities. In this research we investigate whether exposure to the mixing of a foreign culture with one's heritage culture can evoke need for closure, a motive that engenders ethnocentric social judgments. On the basis of a proposed identity threat mechanism, we tested the hypothesis that exposure to situations mixing foreign and heritage cultures would evoke need for closure for individuals with low foreign identification but not those with high foreign identification. An experiment with Hong Kong Chinese students varied linguistic and visual cues of Western and Chinese culture and found, as predicted, that exposure to mixed Western/Chinese conditions elevated need for closure for those low in Western identification but not those high in Western identification.