Bilingual Education Reduces Ethnic Outgroup Discrimination

01 May 2024, Version 3
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Extant research on prejudice reduction often focuses on short-term interventions that yield inconclusive results. Instead, this article focuses on people's formative years and argues that bilingual education reduces ethnic outgroup discrimination through perspective-taking. I test my expectations in three distinct studies. In Study 1, cross-national analyses reveal that bilingual speakers are more sensitive to the unequal treatment of other ethnic communities in their country compared to monolinguals. Study 2 leverages a quasi-experimental variation in the language of instruction used in Malaysian schools and finds that individuals who received bilingual education display more inclusive attitudes than those exposed to monolingual instruction. In Study 3, results from a survey experiment indicate that participants who were instructed to switch between two languages, rather than using just one language, expressed lower levels of ethnic outgroup discrimination. The findings imply that education and language play important roles in reducing intergroup prejudice from an early age.


Ethnic politics
Political socialization
Education policy
Language and bilingualism


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