CUP Undergraduate Research


Bilingualism and Personality Shifts: A Study of Vietnamese-English Bilinguals

Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2015

Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences



Degree Name

Psychology, BA

First Advisor

Reed Mueller, Ph.D.


In this study, the relationship between bilingualism and personality shifts was explored as previous researchers have reported that switching languages can result in the shifting in one’s personality. Several studies exploring this phenomenon have been conducted on different bilingual populations, but less commonly on Vietnamese-English bilinguals. Given the scarcity of studies in this specific population, there is a need to explore personality shifts on Vietnamese-English bilinguals. Using a snowball sampling method, forty-five participants were recruited through the social media portal Facebook. The participants (11 males, 34 females) filled out two purportedly equivalent surveys, one in English and one in Vietnamese. Each survey included selected items of the Language Experience and Proficiency Questionnaire (LEAP-Q) and the NEO-IPIP-120. It was hypothesized that Vietnamese-English bilinguals will experience personality shifts as the culture-related linguistic cues change, which will be reflected by the score differences between the Vietnamese and English IPIP versions. The results indicated that while other factors (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, and Conscientiousness) showed no statistical significance, a significant difference [t(45) = 2.48; p = .017; d = -0.22] was found between the English (M = 86.36, SD = 9.98) and the Vietnamese scores (M = 88.78, SD = 11.22) on the Agreeableness factor. However, examination of item functioning across two translations of the IPIP provides an alternate explanation: the statistical significant findings might be due to the lack of translation equivalence. The findings contributed to the current understanding of the unique phenomenon that occurs in more than half of the world population.

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