Constructing who can be Japanese: A study of social markers of acceptance in Japan

Adam Komisarof, Chan Hoong Leong, Eugene Teng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Social markers of acceptance are socially constructed indicators of adaptation (e.g., language skills or adherence to social norms) that recipient nationals use in deciding whether to view an immigrant as a host community member. This study had two objectives: (a) to distill the markers considered important by Japanese undergraduates to accept immigrants in Japanese society and (b) to test the premises of integrated threat and social identity theories by ascertaining the effects on marker endorsement of perceived immigrant threat, contribution, relative social status, and intergroup permeability. Native-born Japanese (the term “native-born Japanese” is used throughout this article to refer to people born as Japanese citizens—differentiating them from immigrants who are Japanese citizens naturalized after birth) from 12 Japanese universities (N = 428) completed an online survey. Marker importance ratings were factor-analyzed, and three latent dimensions were found representing sociolinguistic, ethnic, and socioeconomic markers. Multiple hierarchical regressions discerned the main effects of immigrants’ perceived threat and contribution on social markers as well as their interactions with intergroup permeability and immigrant relative status. The results underscored perceived threat’s consistent role in increasing marker importance and suggested divergent paths to acceptance: Immigrants perceived as “low-status” were expected to conform to sociolinguistic and ethnic markers, whereas socioeconomic markers were stressed more for “high-status” immigrants when perceived immigrant threat increased and intergroup boundaries were considered less permeable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-250
Number of pages13
JournalAsian Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun 1


  • immigrant acceptance
  • immigration in Japan
  • national identity
  • social identity theory
  • social markers of acceptance
  • social markers of acculturation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences(all)


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