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Think Better in a Foreign Language

Researchers have found that people are more likely to make rational decisions and take favorable risks when they think through a problem in a foreign language (of course, you need to be bilingual in order to do this, so study a foreign language in school).

Psychologist Boaz Keysar says, "A foreign language provides a distancing mechanism that moves people from the immediate intuitive system to a more deliberate mode of thinking." But OTHER scientists are advising people to use their intuition, so which method should we use?

According to Keysar, "We know from previous research that because people are naturally loss-averse, they often forgo attractive opportunities. Our new findings demonstrate that such aversion to losses is much reduced when people make decisions in their non-native language."

Researcher Sayuri Hayakawa says, "Perhaps the most important mechanism for the effect is that a foreign language has less emotional resonance than a native tongue. An emotional reaction could lead to decisions that are motivated more by fear than by hope, even when the odds are highly favorable."



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