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Multilingualism, empathy and multicompetence

Dewaele, Jean-Marc and Li, Wei (2012) Multilingualism, empathy and multicompetence. International Journal of Multilingualism 9 (4), pp. 352-366. ISSN 1479-0718.

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The present study investigates the link between multilingualism and the personality trait of cognitive empathy among 2158 mono- and multilinguals. Data were collected through an online questionnaire. Statistical analyses revealed that the knowledge of more languages was not linked to cognitive empathy. Bilingual upbringing and the experience of having lived abroad were equally unrelated to cognitive empathy. Gender and education level were linked to cognitive empathy. Most interestingly, a small but significant positive correlation emerged between multilingualism (operationalised as advanced levels of proficiency in several foreign languages and frequent use of these languages) and cognitive empathy. Further analysis revealed that frequent use of multiple languages was linked to higher levels of cognitive empathy, which could be interpreted as an indication of multicompetence.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): multilingualism, personality, cognitive empathy, levels of proficiency in several languages
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Applied Linguistics and Communication
Depositing User: Jean Marc Dewaele
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2012 09:51
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33

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