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你想更理性么?用外语思维思考吧

2015-05-14    来源:Brandon Keim    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Thinking in a Foreign Language Makes Decisions More Rational

【相关内容】
芝加哥大学的心理学家波阿兹·科萨(BoazKeysar)带领的研究小组通过一系列实验发现,用外语思考能减少深层的、误导性的偏见,从而使人正确权衡风险利弊。共有 300多名美国人和韩国人参加了这项实验,研究论文发表在《心理科学》期刊(Psychological Science )上。科萨小组写道:

用母语或外语做出的决定会有区别吗?从直觉来看,也许人们会认为,不论用哪种语言思考都会做出相同的决定;用外语思考带来的困难,也许还会导致最后的决定缺乏系统性。但我们发现,事实正好相反。


【文本】
TO JUDGE A risk more clearly, it may help to consider it in a foreign language.

A series of experiments on more than 300 people from the U.S. and Korea found that thinking in a second language reduced deep-seated, misleading biases that unduly influence how risks and benefits are perceived.

“Would you make the same decisions in a foreign language as you would in your native tongue?” asked psychologists led by Boaz Keysar of the University of Chicago in an April 18 Psychological Science study.

“It may be intuitive that people would make the same choices regardless of the language they are using, or that the difficulty of using a foreign language would make decisions less systematic. We discovered, however, that the opposite is true: Using a foreign language reduces decision-making biases,” wrote Keysar’s team.

Psychologists say human reasoning is shaped by two distinct modes of thought: one that’s systematic, analytical and cognition-intensive, and another that’s fast, unconscious and emotionally charged.

In light of this, it’s plausible that the cognitive demands of thinking in a non-native, non-automatic language would leave people with little leftover mental horsepower, ultimately increasing their reliance on quick-and-dirty cogitation.

Equally plausible, however, is that communicating in a learned language forces people to be deliberate, reducing the role of potentially unreliable instinct. Research also shows that immediate emotional reactions to emotively charged words are muted in non-native languages, further hinting at deliberation.


To investigate these possibilities, Keysar’s team developed several tests based on scenarios originally proposed by psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who in 2002 won a Nobel Prize in economics for his work on prospect theory, which describes how people intuitively perceive risk.

In one famous example, Kahneman showed that, given the hypothetical option of saving 200 out of 600 lives, or taking a chance that would either save all 600 lives or none at all, people prefer to save the 200 — yet when the problem is framed in terms of losing lives, many more people prefer the all-or-nothing chance rather than accept a guaranteed loss of 400 lives.

People are, in a nutshell, instinctively risk-averse when considering gain and risk-taking when faced with loss, even when the essential decision is the same. It’s a gut-level human predisposition, and if second-language thinking made people think less systematically, Keysar’s team supposed the tendency would be magnified. Conversely, if second-language thinking promoted deliberation, the tendency would be diminished.

The first experiment involved 121 American students who learned Japanese as a second language. Some were presented in English with a hypothetical choice: To fight a disease that would kill 600,000 people, doctors could either develop a medicine that saved 200,000 lives, or a medicine with a 33.3 percent chance of saving 600,000 lives and a 66.6 percent chance of saving no lives at all.

Nearly 80 percent of the students chose the safe option. When the problem was framed in terms of losing rather than saving lives, the safe-option number dropped to 47 percent. When considering the same situation in Japanese, however, the safe-option number hovered around 40 percent, regardless of how choices were framed. The role of instinct appeared reduced.

Two subsequent experiments in which the hypothetical situation involved job loss rather than death, administered to 144 native Korean speakers from Korea’s Chung Nam National University and 103 English speakers studying abroad in Paris, found the same pattern of enhanced deliberation. “Using a foreign language diminishes the framing effect,” wrote Keysar’s team.

The researchers next tested how language affected decisions on matters of direct personal import. According to prospect theory, the possibility of small losses outweigh the promise of larger gains, a phenomenon called myopic risk aversion and rooted in emotional reactions to the idea of loss.

The same group of Korean students was presented with a series of hypothetical low-loss, high-gain bets. When offered bets in Korean, just 57 percent took them. When offered in English, that number rose to 67 percent, again suggesting heightened deliberation in a second language.


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