Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bilingual Decision-Making and Risk

There's some intriguing research out of the University of Chicago that has implications for humanitarian security practitioners (or anyone who has to deal with risk). The upshot is, if you speak more than one language, you may be able to make better decisions if you think about a problem in your non-native language. This process appears to override cognitive biases (the subject of a future post) that get in the way of good decision-making. I'm a big fan of reframing challenging problems to break through biases, but this approach seems potentially even faster and easier.

Wired has a pretty good write-up on the research, but unfortunately it doesn't talk about the fluency of the study subjects or other details. I always try to go to the primary source when it comes to summarized research, but unfortunately in this case, the full article is behind a pay-wall (don't get me started about companies that monetize academic research that has been paid for by government funding or tax dollars). A little Googling did find the complete article here, though. It's an interesting read and points out the study groups didn't even have a high level of fluency in the second languages.

This is a pretty slick brain hack worth investigating. Give it a try sometime...



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