For Better Decisions Try Thinking in a Different Language
Researchers from The University of Chicago (UChicago) have found that thinking in non-native language increases the decision power of any person. They've learned that the risk taking power of the person increases, when they think in any foreign language.
“We know from previous research that because people are naturally loss-averse, they often forgo attractive opportunities,” said UChicago psychologist Boaz Keysar, a leading expert on communication. “Our new findings demonstrate that such aversion to losses is much reduced when people make decisions in their non-native language."
“A foreign language provides a distancing mechanism that moves people from the immediate intuitive system to a more deliberate mode of thinking,” wrote Keysar, professor of psychology at UChicago, in the paper, “The Foreign Language Effect: Thinking in a Foreign Tongue Reduces Decision Biases.”
Researchers worked on English speakers in the University, who were proficient in Spanish language. The participating students were asked for $1 bet for a coin toss. If they won the toss, they would get $1.50 and if lose the toss they would lose $1. Researchers have found that the students who took decision in English took the bet 54% of the time while the students who took decision in Spanish went for the bet 71% of the time.
“Perhaps the most important mechanism for the effect is that a foreign language has less emotional resonance than a native tongue,” co-author Hayakawa said. “An emotional reaction could lead to decisions that are motivated more by fear than by hope, even when the odds are highly favorable.”
This research can be very beneficial for the businessmen. Their thinking will be more frictionless while taking difficult decisions.
“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. Over a long time horizon, this might very well be beneficial,” the authors wrote.
This study has been supported by the National Science Foundation and appeared in the journal Psychological Science.