Behavior Research Methods

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 250–263 | Cite as

The language and social background questionnaire: Assessing degree of bilingualism in a diverse population

  • John A. E. Anderson
  • Lorinda Mak
  • Aram Keyvani Chahi
  • Ellen Bialystok


Research examining the cognitive consequences of bilingualism has expanded rapidly in recent years and has revealed effects on aspects of cognition across the lifespan. However, these effects are difficult to find in studies investigating young adults. One problem is that there is no standard definition of bilingualism or means of evaluating degree of bilingualism in individual participants, making it difficult to directly compare the results of different studies. Here, we describe an instrument developed to assess degree of bilingualism for young adults who live in diverse communities in which English is the official language. We demonstrate the reliability and validity of the instrument in analyses based on 408 participants. The relevant factors for describing degree of bilingualism are: (1) the extent of non-English language proficiency and use at home, and (2) non-English language use socially. We then use the bilingualism scores obtained from the instrument to demonstrate their association with: (1) performance on executive function tasks, and (2) previous classifications of participants into categories of monolinguals and bilinguals.


Bilingualism Latent-factor-analysis LSBQ Language and social background questionnaire 


Author note

This research was supported by grant A2559 from National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and grants R01HD052523 and R21AG048431 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to EB.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • John A. E. Anderson
    • 1
  • Lorinda Mak
    • 1
  • Aram Keyvani Chahi
    • 1
  • Ellen Bialystok
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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