Examples of Assimilation: 6 Types Explained

The general definition of assimilation is the process of two different things coming together to blend and, in some cases, create a new thing all together. However, that is a very simplistic understanding of the process itself as there are many types of assimilation. Review these assimilation examples to develop a better understand what it is.

Blue and red as examples of assimilation Blue and red as examples of assimilation

Color Assimilation

This is perhaps one of the easiest models that demonstrates assimilation. Color assimilation occurs when two colors blend together to create a completely different color. It can also occur as an optical illusion, such as when two separate but adjacent colors are grouped together perceptually such that the difference between the separate colors is reduced. Even though the colors are not literally blended, viewers perceive them as being very similar or even the same.

  • If you mix a small amount of the color red with a large amount of blue, the red is assimilated into the larger mix. Though the red is absorbed, it changes the hue of blue so that it becomes something different and shifts in the spectrum of color.
  • The shade of a circle or block of gray would be perceived differently based on what other color it is adjacent to. A block of gray outlined with a dark blue border might take on a blue tinge, while the same exact shade of gray outlined with a purple border would look different because the purple in the border would impact how it is perceived.
  • Multicolor fabrics or textiles like those used in upholstery or rugs are often designed with color assimilation in mind. Creators seek to create the Bezold Effect by creating designs and patterns that can look completely different simply by changing out one of the many included colors.

Cultural Assimilation

Cultural assimilation happens when two cultures or groups of people influence one another. Cultural customs, traditions and religious practices can all be assimilated between two or more cultures. Often times, these groups live near one another. Influence may be derived from trade, invasion and/or intermarrying between the groups.

  • The development of Tex Mex cuisine is an example of cultural assimilation resulting in a unique twist on traditional Mexican cuisine blended with food preferences in the southwestern region in the United States. Foods cooked in the Tex Mex style combine elements of both cultures to create a unique style.
  • Cultural assimilation often occurs with regards to how people dress. A woman from the United States or Western Europe who moves to or visits a country where it traditional for women to wear head coverings may adapt to that cultural norm for dress in setting where it would be expected or appropriate.
  • A busy professional accustomed to a fast-paced lifestyle and professional attire who relocates to a senior community or Caribbean island will likely transition to a much slower-paced lifestyle and completely different way of dressing after being there for a while.

Religious Assimilation

Religious assimilation occurs when the faith-based beliefs of more than one religious tradition are combined. This often occurs within families when people of different religions marry. It occurs within faiths as new religions are established or due to changes in the larger culture or society as a whole.

  • The assimilation of some Pagan customs and ceremonies into Christianity is an example of religious assimilation. When Christianity became the predominant religion, Pagan holy days such as Yule and the Spring Equinox became Christmas and Easter, leading to traditions like decorating Christmas trees and Easter eggs.
  • Another example of religious assimilation would be that of the Romans and Greeks. When Rome conquered Greece, they adopted their gods; Zeus, ruler of the gods, became Jupiter, Poseidon, god of the sea, became Neptune, Hades became Pluto, and the list goes on.
  • When parents of very different faiths, such as Catholicism and Judaism incorporate traditions and beliefs of both faiths in how they raise their children, that is an example of religious assimilation.

Linguistic Assimilation

This type of assimilation often occurs when two neighboring groups of people or territories influence one another's way of speaking. It can involve speech patterns, dialect or accents associated with certain regions, but it is often about actual spoken language differences. When people move to different areas, they often pick up speech patterns specific to those areas.

  • The are very different linguistic patterns within different regions of the United States, as well as specific cities. For example, a Boston accent is not the same as a Brooklyn accent, but both ways of speaking are clearly examples of a northeastern accent.
  • Slang and jargon are also examples of linguistic assimilation. Slang can also vary from one region to another, as well as associated with lifestyle or cultural identifiers, such as socioeconomic status or class. Jargon is specific to particular occupations or industries.
  • When people move to an area where the predominant language is different from their first language, they typically retain elements of their original language while picking up elements of the language(s) used in the new area. This is how Spanglish develops, as well as words in a language that are influenced by foreign languages.

Physiological Assimilation

Physiological assimilation refers to the conversion of ingested nutrients into energy that fuels the body as a greater whole. When you hear the phrase "you are what you eat," it's more than just a cute saying. That phrase is actually referring to an example of assimilation.

  • A starch molecule will be broken down into smaller carbohydrates, some of which will be used for fuel and others which can be modified to become part of the cell structure of the organism.
  • Physiological assimilation is the reason many long distance runners and others who participate in sports of endurance will carb load before big events. Eating a lot of carbs a few days before significant exertion helps build up glycogen, which boosts both endurance and performance.
  • Certain medical conditions can interfere with the body's ability to assimilate some nutrients. For example, people who have celiac disease are unable to assimilate vitamins D, K and several of the B vitamins, as well as calcium. This can lead to further health challenges.

Statistical Assimilation

Also referred to as data assimilation, statistical assimilation in a statistical capacity refers to the gathering data over time to in order obtain a clearer picture of that which is being studied. Data is assimilated and allows the person compiling the statistics a better understanding of how things work over all. A piece of data collected is assimilated into the model and becomes part of the mechanism by which all of the subsequent data is interpreted.

  • Meteorologists who attempt to forecast the weather are using statistical assimilation. This is true whether they are seeking to predict temperatures and precipitation, or to determine what path a hurricane, typhoon or other type of storm might take.
  • Pollsters that attempt to predict which political candidates are more likely to win an election use statistical assimilation. They gather information by surveying a sample of the population, then use demographic data and historical information to make predictions.
  • If you have a supermarket purchasing card and receive customized coupons as the checkout, those coupons were selected for you using data assimilation based on what you purchased that day as well as what you have bought from that retailer in the past.

Mastering Types of Assimilation

These examples of assimilation should give you a better idea of all of the different types of assimilation and how they occur. To expand your knowledge on a closely related yet very different topic, take the time to explore some examples of evolution.