Our morals really depends on our language: The foreign language effect within participants


Recent research has suggested that using a foreign language to present hypothetical moral dilemmas increases the rate of utilitarian judgments about those dilemmas (e.g., Greene et al, 2001) and decreases incoherency between judgments in framing effect tasks (e.g., Costa, Foucart, Hayakawa, Aparici, Apesteguia, Heafner, & Keysar, 2014; Keysar, Hayakawa, & An, 2012). However, existing research has mainly investigated this effect using between-participants designs (i.e., different participants in the foreign and native language conditions). Such designs are unable to exclude non-equivalent conditions as a confounding variable. In contrast, this study examined the foreign language effect using a within-subjects design (i.e., all participants responded to moral dilemmas (Greene et al, 2001) and framing effect tasks in both their native and foreign languages. The “foreign language effect” was replicated, excluding semantic non-equivalence between language conditions as a potential confound. This result supports the hypothesis that the foreign language effect is independent of meaning.

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