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Step 2: Identify causal factors

  1. Theory 2
  2. Classificatory Theories
  3. Explanatory Theories
  4. Building A Classification Theory
  5. Building An Explanatory Theory
  6. Step 2: Identify causal factors
  7. Step 3: Trace interactions among variables
  8. Step 4: Propose a scheme for evaluating causal variables
  9. Adapting And Revising Theories

Step 2: Identify causal factors

From our reading and personal observations we estimate that three variables are particularly significant in forming a bicultural person's sense of cultural belongingness: (1) perceived comparative advantages (desirability) of cultures A and B, (2) the treatment that the bicultural individual receives from family members of the two cultures (A and B) and (3) the treatment the individual receives from other people of the two cultures (A and B). We recognize that these three are not the only causal factors, but we think they are powerful and will thus contribute significantly to our understanding how personal identity evolves. Our next task is to cast the factors in the form of propositions or hypotheses that reflect the influence we think each factor exerts.

Proposition 1: Bicultural individuals tend to adopt characteristics of the culture (A or B) that would appear to offer them greater advantage in terms of personal welfare. If one culture appears to be more desirable in one aspect of life and the other in a different aspect, then the individual's self-identity will be an amalgam of features from the two cultures.

Proposition 2: The better the bicultural person is treated by relatives, the more likely the person will identify with the culture of those relatives. If treated well by relatives of both A and B, the person will incorporate features of both cultures into his or her self-identity. But if treated well by relatives on only one side of the family, then characteristics of that culture will be featured in the person's identity. If treated badly by relatives on both sides of the family, the individual will suffer identity confusion and distress.

Proposition 3: Influential, but somewhat less significant than family members' treatment (particularly in childhood), is the treatment the bicultural person receives from nonfamily members of cultures A and B. If treated well by people of both cultures, the person will adopt features of both cultures. But if treated well by people from only one of the two cultures, then characteristics of that culture will be featured in the person's identity. If treated badly by people of both cultures, the individual will suffer identity confusion and distress.

So, we are proposing that our three factors are causal variables that we think contribute significantly to the outcome variable--the bicultural person's selfidentity.

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