Remaining a Pole or Becoming a Canadian: National Self-Identity among Polish Immigrants to Canada1

Authors


  • 1

    The author would like to acknowledge the financial and moral support that Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada provided for this research during his stay there as a visiting professor in 1985 and 1986. He also wishes to extend his thanks to Dr. John W. Berry, who was his sponsor during that time.

Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to Dr. Pawel Boski, Institute of Psychology, Polish Academy of Sciences, 00-901 Warsaw, Poland.

Abstract

The construct of national self-identity has been theoretically elaborated, following Tajfel's (1981) distinction between criterial and correlated (dimensional) attributes. A third identity component, affects for country, was included with these two aspects. The research program built on these distinctions was designed to compare the national self-identities of Polish immigrants to Canada. Men and women who were new (recent), old (WWII veterans) or second generation immigrants participated in the study.

Polish criterial identity (knowledge and personal relevance of national symbols) exhibited a gradual decline from new to second generation immigrants, and a similar but sharper rise in Canadian criterial identity occurred. Correlated aspect of identity was measured as the similarity between self and Canadian/Polish prototypes. Unlike in the criterial sense, Self/Polish was stronger than Self/Canadian correlated identity. Self/Polish identity showed stability across gender and generation. Self/Canadian showed an increase, but only in women. Rating the prototypes high in materialism and low in the family/social concern factor resulted in a low Self/Canadian identity. Four factors were found in the affects for country test: healthy, neurotic, psychotic, and involvement. The first was predominantly a Canadian factor, and the second was a Polish factor. With a succession of new, old, and second generation groups, results showed a shift from less to more positive, from less to more concerned, and from more to less psychotic affects toward Canada. Affects toward Poland were fixed across the categories of subjects. Finally, a syndrome of positive identity with Canada was found, consisting of its criterial, correlated, and healthy affect components.

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