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Impact of relative size and language on the attitudes between nations and linguistic groups : The case of Switzerland
Applied Psychology : An International Review
This study explores the impact of relative size on the intra- and intergroup attitudes of groups who either share a language or have a different language. For that purpose, we examined international attitudes, comparing a small nation, Switzerland, and two larger nations, Germany and France. We found support for the assumption that large neighbouring nations pose a threat to the smaller nation's identity, especially when they are linguistically similar. Consequently, in line with Tajfel's Social Identity Theory (1978), the smaller nation's inhabitants evaluate those of the larger nation less positively, liking them less and perceiving them to be more arrogant than vice versa. By investigating the special case of the French-speaking and the German-speaking Swiss as linguistic groups within their own nation we were able to demonstrate that these groups seek support with the larger-linguistically-similar nation to defend themselves against the more direct in-country threat to their identity. They acknowledge the similarity with the larger nation, yet keep defending their social identity by expressing a dislike for this perceived similarity.
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