Why some Americans seem more ‘American’ than others

Katherine Kinzler

In the United States and many other countries, nationality is defined by a set of legal parameters. It may involve birthplace, parental citizenship or a circumscribed set of procedures for naturalization.

Yet, in many Americans’ minds, these more objective notions of citizenship are a little fuzzy around the edges, as social and developmental psychologists like me have documented in our research. Psychologically, some people may just seem a little more American than others, based on unrelated factors like race, ethnicity or language.