Home > Uncategorized > Thinking in a Foreign Language Helps Economic Decision-Making

Thinking in a Foreign Language Helps Economic Decision-Making

In this article http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120425093938.htm research supported by the National Science Foundation has presented evidence that runs contrary to establish economic theory.  In this study researchers studied the difference between when someone makes a decision in a foreign language as opposed to their mother tongue. As it turns out people have a better chance of making more advantageous if they consider their options in a foreign language. This is due to the fact that when someone thinks in a foreign language their brain functions in a more deliberate manner which makes way for better decision making. Image

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. May 1, 2012 at 1:58 pm | #1

    I find this idea embodies a classic correlation/causation fallacy. The problem can be well embodied in an example: consider the fact that both ice cream consumption and murder rates both increase during the summer months. Because these two events are correlated, does that mean one causes the other? Of course not (the actual reason for the increase in both are psychological effects of hotter weather). You’re using a similar, albeit less obvious, fallacy. You’re assuming that because better business decisions are correlated with a foreign language, that one causes the other. However, logic says otherwise.

    I propose a different explanation. Perhaps better business decisions are made in a foreign language because people who are better at business tend to learn foreign languages (both because it helps with their job and because they’re generally higher-caliber people). Just a thought.

  2. May 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm | #2

    Like Chris said, I don’t think you can say that one definitively causes the other, but you propose an interesting correlation. After first reading this, my initial thought was that people who think in a language other than their native tounge have to take the time to translate and conjugate things into that language. During this process, more time is spent reaching the decision, and thus there is a greater opportunity to make a smart choice, rather than just following your first instinct. Although this shows how the two could be related, it is just one possibility and I think there needs to be much more information provided before a causual relationship can be determined.

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