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Foreign thinking

Thinking in a foreign language leads people to make more rational decisions, according to researchers at the University of Chicago.

Featured in the current issue of Psychological Science, the study found that people have less emotional ties to a foreign language, meaning they have a more rational thought process. Their emotional ties to their native language impedes logical thought, according to the study’s authors.

The study, titled “The Foreign Language Effect: Thinking in a Foreign Tongue Reduces Decision Biases”, used previous research showing that people are naturally risk-averse. In one experiment, researchers asked college students to make their decision in (recently learned) Spanish; the test showed that the students were more likely to take a bet in Spanish than in English. This result has potential benefits:

“People who routinely make decisions in a foreign language might be less biased in their savings, investment and retirement decisions, as they show less myopic loss aversion,” the authors wrote. “Over a long time horizon, this might very well be beneficial.” (Source: Huffington Post)

Another reason to learn a second language!