Cognitive biases, the best enemies of the integration of the French in Quebec. – Damn French

What a surprising title. In order not to get lost, let’s dive straight into the matter, because yes, the topic affects you very much. We talk about it a lot, but what are cognitive biases, why and how do they affect the integration of the French in Quebec?

A little context: The term “cognitive bias” comes from the field of neuroscience. This refers to systematic thought patterns, a distortion of information processing that can lead to misjudgments, rational thinking in relation to reality and decision-making. Expatriates face this!

Cognitive biases, how do they work?

With regard to information, cognitive biases are consciously used in various environments: marketing (the essence of advertising is based on cognitive biases), education, media, politics, for example in the business world during negotiations… A better understanding to be better informed, is interesting tool as an expatriate. This can help us make more respectful decisions and avoid our common mental traps.

Some of our biases and actions may be inappropriate when we arrive in a new area. Knowing about the biases gives us more freedom to act consciously and is therefore more effective for our integration. This makes it possible, among other things, to avoid misinterpretations of our colleagues’ actions and to improve our communication!

Biases can arise from factors such as cultural familiarity, including the use of French, stereotypes, preconceived expectations and other cognitive mechanisms that can influence how we as expatriates interpret and respond to situations at home, at work and in social life. Understanding and recognizing these cognitive biases is crucial to promote more effective adjustment and smooth and comfortable integration.

The prejudices of French expatriates in Quebec

Ethnocentrism bias : As a French person, it is not uncommon to judge Quebec culture based on the standards of French culture. This leads to incorrect judgments and conclusions. It is important to move away from ethnocentrism, but rest assured that it is widespread all over the world.

Cultural confirmation bias: Tendency to interpret information in a way that confirms pre-existing cultural stereotypes about Quebec: “Quebecers are so nice,” “Everything is easy”…

Expatriate group effect: There is a risk of developing close relationships with other French people, which can limit understanding and interaction with locals. It’s nice and part of the balance to ALSO be with French people, but still immerse yourself in the local culture and consciously build connections with the locals.

Rapid tendency towards cultural assimilation : Excessive attitude to quickly adapt to local culture. Some French people try to use an excessive Quebec accent and use local swear words in completely inappropriate situations.

Tendency towards cultural optimism : Overestimating how easily one can adapt to a new culture, which can lead to disappointments and unforeseen difficulties. Since we speak the same language, we seem to understand each other. The familiarity of informality is a significant example.

Intercultural communication bias : Underestimating cultural differences in communication is one of the greatest dangers for the French. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. In a professional setting, the consequences can impact the quality of your experience.

Tips to optimize your experience in Quebec

  • Get informed, train yourself. A conscious understanding of the mechanisms of cognitive distortions will allow you to mitigate them and make appropriate decisions.
  • Developing conscious agility in dealing with your own biases and challenging biases will help you build authentic and lasting relationships.
  • Immersion in the local culture and your involvement will be your key to successful integration (volunteering, cultural events, integration – arts, local media, references).
  • Get out of the automatic value judgment and develop an automatic understanding before expressing an opinion or a judgment!
  • Pay particular attention to authentic communication. Promoting transparent communication (Quebec colleagues and friends of all backgrounds) helps to anticipate and resolve misunderstandings and build valuable connections.

Integrating intercultural adaptation strategies will help you overcome professional and social challenges, in short, enrich your experience in Quebec!


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