Cultural identity and perceived success among Israeli immigrants: An emic approach

Maya Benish-Weisman, Gabriel Horenczyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study proposes an emic conceptualization and measurement of identity and adaptation following immigration, which assesses both constructs in terms of the immigrant's own criteria-and not according to standardized external parameters. 337 Israeli immigrants completed the group characteristics questionnaire with relation to their minority (" Russian" ), majority ("Israeli" ), and ethnic ("Jewish" ) identities, as well as the perceived success questionnaire. Results revealed that people who perceived their immigration as successful exhibit higher levels of Israeli identity than those who perceived their immigration as unsuccessful. We found that unsuccessful immigrants were characterized primarily by a marginalization orientation whereas those who perceived themselves as successful showed primarily an integration orientation followed by one of assimilation. Positive valences of the Israeli identity, but also negative valences of the Jewish identity, were related positively to success. Finally, we learned that newcomers with high levels of Russian identity are likely to define success in terms of competence, whereas immigrants who have high levels of Israeli identity tend to characterize success in terms of belonging. Results are explained in light of the special contribution of the new conceptualizations and methodologies to the understanding of cultural transition processes and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-526
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Scholion, Interdisciplinary center in Jewish studies, The Cherrick Center, The Harvey L. Silbert Center for Israel Studies, and The Shaine Center for Research in Social Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


  • Acculturation
  • Adaptation
  • Cultural identity
  • Immigrants
  • Success

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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