What it means to be a national: A study among adolescents in multicultural Mauritius

Caroline Ng Tseung-Wong, Femke van der Werf, Maykel Verkuyten, Borja Martinovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: We investigated adolescents' understandings of national group membership in multicultural Mauritius. We hypothesized that tolerance toward different cultures would be an important criterion for being Mauritian. In addition, national identity was expected to be defined in terms of "being," "feeling," and "doing." The type of definition, and whether stopping being Mauritian is perceived as possible, was expected to depend on age and national identification. Possible differences by cultural group membership were explored.

METHOD: The sample consisted of 2,190 adolescents of predominantly the three main cultural groups in Mauritius (Hindus, Muslims, and Creoles; Mage = 14.8 years, SDage = 1.7; 53% girls, 47% boys). Multiple correspondence and regression analyses were used to test the hypotheses.

RESULTS: The most important criterion mentioned for being Mauritian was respecting cultural diversity. Further, the criteria for national belonging could be clustered into being, feeling, and doing Mauritian. Older adolescents and higher national identifiers defined national belonging more in terms of feeling and less in terms of being than younger adolescents and lower national identifiers. In addition, they considered national identity to be less changeable. There were no clear differences between the three cultural groups.

CONCLUSIONS: This study reveals the central importance of mutual respect and tolerance as the defining criterion for being Mauritian. Moreover, the feeling, being, and doing clusters of criteria provide a theoretically interesting distinction for understanding national belonging. It is recommended to test their possible correlates further and to use adult samples as well. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)576-587
Number of pages12
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


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