The relation between multilingualism and basic human values among primary school children in South Tyrol
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Cook argued that the learning of a new language leads to a state of multi-competence, with the learner’s mind changing in ways that go beyond the linguistic realm. The present study follows Dewaele’s suggestion that multilingualism is linked to both cognitive and psychological changes. It explores one particular under-researched relationship, namely the link between bi- and multilingualism and human basic values. Participants were 398 primary school children (incipient bilinguals and functional bi- and multilinguals) in South Tyrol. They filled out a questionnaire on background information and the Picture Based Value Survey for Children (PBVS-C). Multidimensional scaling was used to understand the value structures and hierarchies among these pupils. Results suggest that, contrary to expectations, incipient bilinguals scored significantly higher on openness to change than their multilingual peers. Multilingualism was linked to higher scores on conservation, while children from a migrant background scored higher on conservation and self-enhancement, and lower on openness to change. Children with two migrant parents rated openness to change significantly lower.