Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department

W.M. Keck Science Department

Reader 1

Cathy Reed

Reader 2

Alison Harris

Rights Information

2019 Felipe C Sant'Anna


Dual process theory suggests the existence of two systems of thought: a slow, controlled, analytic system, and a fast, automatic, associative system. Our heuristics and biases are thought to be a product of the latter. The framing effect is a cognitive bias by which an individual’s preference for an option changes depending on whether it is presented as a gain or a loss: in gain-frames, the tendency is for people to avoid risky options, but they are attracted to risky options in loss-frames. This effect is interrupted when people are presented the options in a foreign language – the “foreign language effect”. The most widely accepted explanation is that in one’s native tongue, he is more susceptible to associative thinking due to the emotional resonance of the words, but these associations are not as salient in a foreign language. Consistent with this theory, amygdala activation has been shown to predict the presence of the framing effect.

Recent studies provide evidence for an alternative neural mechanism underlying automatic thought and biases like framing: the default mode network (DMN). The DMN is a set of structures in the medial prefrontal cortex, medial temporal lobe, posterior cingulate cortex, and parts of the ventral precuneus and parietal cortex that are active at rest and thought to be responsible for “autopilot behaviors”. My study examines the alternative hypothesis that the foreign language effect is mitigated by cognitive inhibition instead of emotional resonance. My study employs two tasks widely known to demonstrate the foreign language effect: the Kahneman & Tversky’s Asian disease problem and De Martino’s financial decision-making task. My extension of these prior bilingual studies will add a monolingual control group and use fMRI to monitor not just amygdala activity, but DMN and DAN activity as well.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.