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Strength of Canadian identification and the prediction of Asian immigrants' intentions to become Canadian citizens : a social psychological analysis



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Citizenship acquisition is often interpreted as indicating an immigrants’ successful integration into their new society. The literature includes a variety of behavioural, but not psychological, indicators of integration in the prediction of citizenship acquisition. Using an intergroup relations perspective, this study examined Asian immigrants’ intentions to become Canadian citizens. Social identity theory was used to conceptualize the formation of a Canadian identity as an indicator of psychological integration into Canada. It was hypothesized that the stronger immigrants identify with Canada, the more likely they will want to acquire Canadian citizenship. Perceived discrimination and cultural incompatibility, as acculturative barriers to the formation of a Canadian identity, were hypothesized to relate negatively to intentions to acquire Canadian citizenship. The relationship between immigrants’ cultural identity and citizenship acquisition intentions was also explored, as was the importance of psychological predictors in relation to behavioural predictors of citizenship acquisition intentions. One hundred and fourteen immigrants to Canada from Asia completed an Internet questionnaire about their experiences in Canada, and their intentions to become Canadian citizens. The results showed a positive relationship (r = .55) between respondents’ strength of Canadian identification and their intentions to apply for Canadian citizenship, as well as an unexpected positive relationship (r = .15) between their perceptions of discrimination against immigrants in the Canadian labour market and their citizenship acquisition intentions. Cultural identity and perceptions of cultural incompatibility were unrelated to their citizenship acquisition intentions.A hierarchical multiple regression showed that the combination of English ability, length of time lived in Canada, participation in Canadian society, Canadian Identification, and Perceptions of discrimination against immigrants in the labour market accounted for 36.5% of the variance in citizenship acquisition intentions. Only Canadian identification and perceptions of discrimination contributed uniquely to the variance. It was concluded that Canadian identity is importantly related to immigrants’ citizenship acquisition intentions, and that psychological acculturation is relevant to the study of citizenship acquisition. These novel findings are important and expand the citizenship acquisition literature as well as contribute to the further development of social identity theory.



Psychological Acculturation, Citizenship Acquisition, Canadian Identity, Social Identity Theory



Master of Arts (M.A.)







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