Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Linguistics and Cognitive Science

Reader 1

Jeffrey Geiger

Reader 2

Stacey Wood

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Rights Information

2021 Karoline H Blendstrup


The foreign language effect is the finding that making decisions in a foreign language encourages more systematic thinking processes and reduces decision making biases compared to when decisions are made using a native tongue. This effect has been studied in various domains of decision making such as morality, inference, and risk. In the moral domain, people tend to make more utilitarian decisions in a foreign language compared to a native language. It is theorized that using a foreign language elicits a weaker emotional response compared to a native language which is typically acquired in affect rich environments. Thus, using a foreign language may be a mechanism to reduce emotionality and promote more analytical thinking. The current study focuses on the domain of risk perception. In this domain, there is evidence that using a foreign language reduces the influence of framing effects, a cognitive bias where people are influenced by whether options are presented in a positive or negative connotation. The factor that will be further investigated is the question of how the modality of the stimuli (textual or auditory) may modulate the effect. This has been previously explored in the moral domain, but not the risk domain. Overall, in this study no significant effects of language, modality, or frame impacted the decisions of participants.

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