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Article

Testing the Foreign Language Effect on Cognitive Reflection in Older Adults

1
Department of Health, Education and Technology, Engineering Psychology, Luleå University of Technology, 971 87 Luleå, Sweden
2
Department of Psychology, Umeå University, 907 36 Umeå, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Tracy E. Love
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(11), 1527; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11111527
Received: 31 August 2021 / Revised: 10 November 2021 / Accepted: 13 November 2021 / Published: 18 November 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurocognitive Underpinnings of the Foreign Language Effect)
An increasing number of people around the world communicate in more than one language, resulting in them having to make decisions in a foreign language on a daily basis. Interestingly, a burgeoning body of literature suggests that people’s decision-making is affected by whether they are reasoning in their native language (NL) or their foreign language (FL). According to the foreign language effect (FLe), people are less susceptible to bias in many decision-making tasks and more likely to display utilitarian cost-benefit analysis in moral decision-making when reasoning in a FL. While these differences have often been attributed to a reduced emotionality in the FL, an emerging body of literature has started to test the extent to which these could be attributable to increased deliberation in the FL. The present study tests whether increased deliberation leads to a FLe on cognitive reflection in a population of older adults (Mage = 65.1), from the successful aging project in Umeå, Sweden. We explored whether performance on a 6-item version of the cognitive reflection test (CRT) adapted to Swedish would differ between participants for whom Swedish was their NL and those for whom Swedish was their FL. The CRT is a task designed to elicit an incorrect, intuitive answer. In order to override the intuitive answer, one requires engaging in deliberative, analytical thinking to determine the correct answer. Therefore, we hypothesized that if thinking in a FL increases deliberation, then those performing the task in their FL would exhibit higher accuracy rates than those performing in their NL. Our results showed that age and level of education predicted performance on the task but performance on the CRT did not differ between the NL and the FL groups. In addition, in the FL group, proficiency in the FL was not related to performance in the CRT. Our results, therefore, do not provide evidence that thinking in a FL increases deliberation in a group of older adults performing a logical reasoning task that is not typically associated with an emotional connotation. View Full-Text
Keywords: foreign language effect; bilingualism; multilingualism; aging; older adulthood; decision-making; reasoning foreign language effect; bilingualism; multilingualism; aging; older adulthood; decision-making; reasoning
MDPI and ACS Style

Vega-Mendoza, M.; Hansson, P.; Sörman, D.E.; Ljungberg, J.K. Testing the Foreign Language Effect on Cognitive Reflection in Older Adults. Brain Sci. 2021, 11, 1527. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11111527

AMA Style

Vega-Mendoza M, Hansson P, Sörman DE, Ljungberg JK. Testing the Foreign Language Effect on Cognitive Reflection in Older Adults. Brain Sciences. 2021; 11(11):1527. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11111527

Chicago/Turabian Style

Vega-Mendoza, Mariana, Patrik Hansson, Daniel E. Sörman, and Jessica K. Ljungberg. 2021. "Testing the Foreign Language Effect on Cognitive Reflection in Older Adults" Brain Sciences 11, no. 11: 1527. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11111527

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