Fri, 23 Feb 2018 12:29:12 +0000Geralde Vincent-BancroftBilingual people have always been at the centre of scientists thoughts when analysing the emotional effect of languages on people.
A group of scientists ( Boaz Keysar, Sayri Hayakawa and Sun Gyu an) of Chicago’s University, wanted to know if bilinguals would be more analytical and less emotional…
Bilingual people have always been at the centre of scientists thoughts when analysing the emotional effect of languages on people.
A group of scientists ( Boaz Keysar, Sayri Hayakawa and Sun Gyu an) of Chicago’s University, wanted to know if bilinguals would be more analytical and less emotional when making decisions in a foreign language. [ I would think that it does not make any difference at all ].
They achieved a series of experiments on more than 300 people from the USA and Korea.
They picked 121 American students who learned Japanese. They were introduced to a hypothetical scenario: to fight a disease that would kill 600.000 people,Doctors could :
(1) either develop a medicine that saved 200.000 lives or
(2) a medicine with 33.3% chance of saving 600.000 lives ( that means 66% chance of saving no lives ).
80% of students chose the safe option (1).
When the problem was framed in terms of losing rather than saving lives, the safe option number dropped to 47%.
When they were asked the same question in Japanese, the safe option number was 40% regardless of how choices were framed. The role of instinct was significantly reduced.
When a decision is verbally framed as involving a gain, people prefer a sure outcome over a probability outcome.
When the situation is framed as involving losses, people sometimes prefer to gamble.
This is called the framing effect and it was originally investigated by Daniel Kahneman and team.
So, the framing effect was present in the native language and absent in the second language.
I would have thought that the stress of using a foreign language could have diminished the reasoning process in the students and pushed them to make emotional decisions, but the findings were different. They accepted the positive bet (2) more often when using their second language.
The researchers tried to see how language affects personal decision making. They took a group of Korean students who were given a series of hypothetical low-loss and high-gain bets. When the bets were offered in Korean 57% took them. When offered in English(foreign language) 67% took them.
Again, it shows that deliberation is higher in the foreign language.
Keysar explains the results they obtained by saying:
” They make more bets in a foreign language because they expect to gain in the long run and are less affected by the typically exaggerated aversion to losses”.
This confirms one more time that people tend to reason in a more logical way when using a foreign language, hence promoting analytical thoughts and reducing their emotional reactions, thus leading to better decision making.
Next time you ought to take a vital decision, it would be better for you to analyse the problem in your second language.
Have you experienced better decision making in the language you’re learning? Feel free to share.
Do you want to know your level at the language you’re currently studying? Take this Quiz!