• Spain's news in English
 

'People are more logical in a foreign language'

Published: 08 Jan 2014 10:12 GMT+01:00

People make decisions differently depending on whether they are operating in a first or second language, the team from Barcelona's Universidad Pompeu Fabra found.

"We recruited a group of Spanish native speakers who had a reasonable, but not very high level of English, and who don't use the language regularly," study author Albert Costa told The Local.

"We then asked them to do a series of decision-making tests in both their native Spanish and in English," said Costa who heads up the Speech Production and Bilingualism unit at the Universidad Pompeu Fabra.

Those tests involved four different types of individual decision-making problems and tackled issues like risk and certainty as well as loss aversion, or the idea that people are prefer to avoid loss than acquire gains.  

"When people used their native language, their choices tended to be more affected by emotional factors," said study author Alberat Costa who heads up the Speech Production and Bilingualism unit at the Universidad Pompeu Fabra.

"But we found the study participants tended to be more rational and 'colder' in their problem-solving when using their second language — in this case English."

The study backs up the findings of a 2012 University of Chicago study which also found that using a foreign language reduces decision-making bias.

"We propose that these effects arise because a foreign language provides greater cognitive and emotional distance than a native tongue does," said the authors of that study.

Don't miss stories about Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

George Mills (george.mills@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Barca man banned from showing pals round park
Park Güell in Barcelona. Photo: Cesar Rangel/AFP

Barca man banned from showing pals round park

Barcelona’s struggle with tourists has been well publicized recently, but now residents are getting told off for showing their own friends around some of the city's biggest sites. READ  

Could olive 'ebola' wipe out crop in Spain?
Spanish olive groves. Photo: Jorge Guerrero

Could olive 'ebola' wipe out crop in Spain?

Spanish olive groves are under threat from a bacteria that has made its way from America and is currently blighting Italian olive groves. READ  

My Spanish Career
'Americans laugh louder, Spaniards are reserved'
Amy Elliott acts in a production of Jack and The Beanstalk. Photo: Steppingonstage.com

'Americans laugh louder, Spaniards are reserved'

In the latest instalment of My Spanish Career, The Local talks to Amy Elliott, an American born and raised in Pennington, New Jersey who has managed to combine a passion for theatre with Spain’s ever growing thirst for English learning. READ  

Election results
Ada Colau, Barcelona's 'Indignada' protest mayor
Ada Colau, Barcelona's new 'indignada' protest mayor. Photo: Quique Garcia/AFP

Ada Colau, Barcelona's 'Indignada' protest mayor

A career spent pounding the streets in anti-austerity campaigns has brought Ada Colau close to leading one of Spain's most powerful and most visited cities, Barcelona. READ  

Elections results
Blonde grans locked in battle to be Madrid mayor
Esperanza Aguirre and Manuela Carmena during a TV debate last week. Photo: Screenshot TeleMadrid

Blonde grans locked in battle to be Madrid mayor

Esperanza Aguirre just wins most votes in City Hall but protest candiadate Manuela Carmena could forge an alliance with socialists to take the City Hall. READ  

Election results
Protest movement deals PP an historic battering
Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias celebrates after results on Sunday. Photo: Pedro Armestre /AFP

Protest movement deals PP an historic battering

Sunday's election saw a dramatic shake-up of Spanish politics. In Madrid the ruling PP saw their majority shattered, while in Barcelona, a 41-year-old "indignado" won the most votes toppling CiU's grip on City Hall. READ  

Opinion
Elections will be critical test for fractured system
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at a PP rally in Valencia. Photo: Jose Jordan / AFP

Elections will be critical test for fractured system

You have to be either foolish or very brave to try and predict the outcome of Sunday’s local elections in Spain. READ  

Police manhunt: Have you seen this couple?
'Patsy' Adams and his wife Constance could be on the run in Spain. Photo: Metropolitan Police

Police manhunt: Have you seen this couple?

Police believe the notorious north London gangster Patrick Adams and his wife may have fled to Spain where they have previous links to Torremolinos. READ  

Gallery
Seven adorable animals facing extinction in Spain
Photo: Iberian Lynx Exsitu Conservation Programme / Wikimedia Commons.

Seven adorable animals facing extinction in Spain

To mark International Day for Biodiversity, The Local takes a look at some of the Spanish animals most at risk of extinction. READ  

Magaluf bans drunk badly-behaved tourists
British tourists on a night out in Puente Ballena last summer. Photo: Jaime Reina / AFP

Magaluf bans drunk badly-behaved tourists

Bare chests, sex parties, falling down drunk in the streets and balconing will no longer be tolerated in Magaluf under new bylaws. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: 9 questions every expat should ask
National
Can Edurne win for Spain in Vienna on Saturday?
Education
7 reasons for Spain's newfound love of English
Features
7 reasons why Spain's the best place on earth
National
What’s on in Spain: May 2015
National
The perks and quirks of having a baby in Spain
National
Iceland revokes order to 'kill Basques on sight'
National
Five reasons why it’s good to be gay in Spain
National
Job creation? The truth behind Spain's figures
National
Spain among ten best countries to be a mum
National
The ten greatest things about Spain (in the UK)
National
British expats fall victim to NHS clampdown
Features
Top ten: Madrid's best rooftop bars
Travel
Benidorm: Cultural wonder of the world?
National
King Juan Carlos led 'double-life' with lover
Features
Ten best UNESCO world heritage sites in Spain
Features
Happy book day! Top ten Spanish literary gifts
Features
All the fun of the fair: Seville's Feria de Abril
National
Off with her hair! Queen Letizia debuts new do
National
Barcelona bans tourists from famous market
National
Rockers pen 'We don't love Ryanair' ballad
Travel
Location tours start for 'Game of Thrones' fans
National
Top ten things to do in Castellón
First house sold by lottery ticket in Spain
National
Official: Francisco Franco was a dictator
National
Olives and vino at risk from climate change
National
Olé! Madonna orders tour bullfighting suits
National
Jihadists planned attacks in Spain: judge
Politics
Spain's 'Citizens' party fires up voters
Travel
'No pooing': village tells pilgrims in north Spain
National
Spain gets first memorial stones to Nazi victims
National
Town in shock at expat double murder
National
Brit family of four dead after Gibraltar stabbing
National
What's on in Spain: April 2015
National
Priest arrested for exorcism on anorexic girl
National
Could this be Spain's own Maggie Thatcher?
National
Spain outstrips France and Italy in wine exports
National
What country is Catalonia most like?
International
Exposed: actress who faked Oscar glory
Society
Ten phrases you'll only hear at work in Spain
National
Brooms up! Quidditch casts its spell over Spain
International
Spanish crowned world's happiest language
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,363
jobs available