Who adopts the culture of ethnic minority groups? A personality perspective on majority-group members’ acculturation

Jonas R. Kunst*, Katharina Lefringhausen, Sara W. Skaar, Milan Obaidi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
65 Downloads (Pure)


Acculturation is commonly conceptualized as a two-way process in which all groups involved in intercultural contact change. Yet, very little is known about the acculturation orientations of majority-group members and the factors that differentiate those who adopt aspects of minority groups’ culture from those who reject them. In the present research, we for the first time aimed to answer this question from a personality perspective. A total of 301 White majority-group members living in the U.S. first completed a personality assessment and then indicated the extent to which they maintained their own culture and adopted the culture of ethnic minority groups. Our analytic approach combined top-down variable-centered and bottom-up person-centered analyses. In terms of variable-centered analyses, participants who adopted the culture of minority groups scored lower on conscientiousness and higher on openness. Moreover, adoption of minority-group cultures was positively associated with the personality facets sociability and inquisitiveness, and negatively with modesty and prudence. In terms of person-centered analyses, four acculturation clusters emerged, resembling strategies commonly observed among minority groups: marginalization, separation, integration and a diffuse strategy in which participants scored around the midpoint on own culture maintenance as well as minority culture adoption. Interestingly, especially this diffuse cluster differed from the other clusters on personality traits and facets, with participants tending to be more open than integrated and separated individuals, and less conscientious than separated individuals. The present report suggests that personality traits may help explain how majority-group members acculturate and highlights avenues for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-28
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Early online date11 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Acculturation
  • Immigration
  • Intercultural contact
  • Majority-group
  • Personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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