Is bilingualism linked to national identity? Evidence from a big data survey

Rining Wei, Barry Lee Reynolds, Mengxia Kong, Zhixin Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Psychological variables remain a much under-investigated sub-category of individual differences (IDs) compared with cognitive ones. The present paper aims to gain a better understanding of the psychological effects of bilingualism by investigating national identity (NI), a socio-psychological construct, based on big data, that has rarely been examined. Drawing upon the 2015 Chinese Social Survey (CSS), which utilised a nationally representative sample (N = 10242), we employed a ‘more refined’ version of hierarchical regression analysis on the influence of foreign-language (FL)-based bilingualism and other sociobiographical variables on NI. Out of the 18 initial independent variables, satisfaction with life (1.7%–2.2%) and age (1.2%–1.4%) emerged as important predictors for NI as their minimum effect size value (ΔR2, see the range in brackets) exceeded the ‘typical’ benchmark (1%); in contrast, the influence respectively from FL mastery (.006%–.040%) and FL use (.000%–.004%) was negligible. In other words, our key finding is that a person’s FL-based bilingualism had little to do with his/her NI. Implications for China’s plan to reform FL (e.g. English) learning are discussed, and future research directions are also proposed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • FL-based bilingualism
  • Foreign-language-based bilingualism
  • foreign language mastery
  • foreign language use
  • national identity
  • the Chinese Social Survey (CSS)


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