Social-Cognitive and Affective Antecedents of Code Switching and the Consequences of Linguistic Racism for Black People and People of Color

Darin G. Johnson, Bradley D. Mattan, Nelson Flores, Nina Lauharatanahirun, Emily B. Falk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Linguistic racism shapes the psychological antecedents of code switching and its consequences for Black people and other people of color. We highlight mentalizing as an antecedent of code switching. We posit that stereotype threat arises in contexts where racism is salient, prompting scrutiny of others’ mental states (i.e., mentalizing) when making choices about linguistic self-presentation. Additionally, we posit that sustained appraisals of stereotype threat add cognitive load and reinforce self-protective code switching. We highlight potential consequences of linguistic racism for Black people and other people of color, including reduced opportunities for authentic self-presentation, increased emotional effort, and stress. Finally, we outline paths forward for research and practice: (1) recognizing the heterogeneity of language and thereby reducing linguistic racism, (2) implementing changes that promote racially affirming environments that reduce demands for self-protective code switching, and (3) adapting and creating scalable psychometric tools to measure linguistic choices and linguistic racism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-13
Number of pages9
JournalAffective Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Social Psychology

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