On the reliability of the foreign language effect on risk-taking

Sayuri Lynn Hayakawa, Becky Ka Ying Lau, Sophie Holtzmann, Albert Costa, Boaz Keysar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

People consider choices that involve risk on a daily basis. In principle, willingness to take risks should be independent of the language used while considering the available options. However, research has shown that using a foreign language can increase willingness to take risks, presumably because a foreign language is less emotional. Here, we investigate the robustness of this effect of language on risk by varying participant language background and methodological design features. In addition, we investigate whether using a foreign language increases risk-seeking behaviour in general, or whether it promotes a more strategic approach to risk. Four experiments reveal mixed results regarding the effect that using a foreign language has on risk-taking. Experiment 1 clearly shows that using a foreign language increases strategic risk-taking compared with using a native tongue. In contrast, Experiments 2 and 3 find no effect of the native-ness of language on risk-taking. Experiment 4 supports the idea that using a foreign language promotes risk-taking in general compared with using a native language. We discuss these mixed results in the context of previous findings and suggest potential directions for future research to clarify the effect of language on risk-taking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-40
Number of pages12
JournalQuarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006)
Volume72
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • Bilingualism
  • decision making
  • emotion
  • foreign language
  • loss aversion
  • risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Physiology (medical)

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